MARIO’S POLLO ALLA CACCIATORE (“hunter’s style”, with onion, mushrooms, pancetta and tomatoes, for four)
Mario notes that “chicken catchatori seemed to be a subset for every mediocre chicken dish ever served to me at restaurants in the 70s and 80s; anything with a mushroom or an onion in it qualified for the title.” He, of course, recommends using homemade tomato sauce and chicken stock.
2 cloves garlic, minced
1 branch rosemary, leaves only, minced
salt and freshly ground black pepper
about ½ cup extra-virgin olive oil
one 3 pound chicken, cut into 8 serving pieces, rinsed and patted dry with paper towels
2 large yellow onions, coarsely chopped
1 pound portobello mushrooms, stems removed, cut into 1 inch cubes
4 ounces pancetta, cut into ½ inch dice
4 ribs celery, cut into 1 inch pieces
2 cups homemade tomato sauce, Mario’s marinara or the commercially prepared tomato sauce of your choice
1 cup dry white wine
1 cup chicken stock
pinch of sugar
pinch of hot red pepper flakes
1. In a large bowl, combine the garlic, rosemary and salt and pepper to taste and add enough olive oil (3 to 4 tablespoons) to make a somewhat dry paste. Add the chicken and rub the paste evenly over the pieces of chicken. Cover and refrigerate for 2 hours.
2. In a Dutch oven, heat the remaining ¼ cup olive oil over high heat until smoking. Brush the excess rub from the bird and sear the chicken, in batches if necessary, until browned on all sides, about 10 minutes per batch. Transfer to a plate lined with paper towels.
3. Add the onions, mushrooms, pancetta and celery to the pot and cook until the onions are golden brown and the pancetta has rendered its fat, about 8 minutes. Drain off the excess oil, then add the tomato sauce and wine, stirring with a wooden spoon to dislodge the brown bits from the bottom of the pan. Add the stock, sugar and red pepper flakes and bring to a boil. Simmer until sauce thickens slightly, about 10 minutes.
4. Return the chicken to the pot, cover, and cook for 20 minutes (If you add more chicken pieces, or if your chicken pieces are large, increase the braising time). Uncover and simmer 10 minutes more. Transfer chicken to a festive platter, top with the sauce and serve.