This month’s recipe redux is chicken cacciatore, a classic Italian-American dish that appeared in the magazine in August 1949. “Did you ever stop to wonder whether that old Sunday standby—roast chicken—is boring your family to death?” the recipe’s introduction inquires. I never tire of roast chicken, but I love this classic preparation in which chicken is first browned and then finished in a fragrant tomato sauce. To suit contemporary tastes, I pan-fry the chicken in olive oil (instead of shortening) and use thighs or drumsticks instead of the whole bird because it’s easier. Adding more vegetables and introducing white wine and fresh herbs creates an aromatic braising liquid for the chicken.
8 chicken thighs or drumsticks
Salt and pepper
2 tablespoons olive oil
3 celery stalks, diced
2 carrots, peeled and sliced
1 medium onion, sliced
2 cloves garlic, minced
1 tablespoon tomato paste
½ cup dry white wine
1 large can (28 ounces) crushed tomatoes
2 cups chicken stock
4 sprigs fresh thyme
2 bay leaves, fresh or dried
1. Preheat oven to 375 degrees.
2. Season the chicken with salt and pepper. Heat a Dutch oven over medium-high heat and add the olive oil. When the oil is hot and shimmering, add the chicken pieces and cook, turning once, until well-browned on each side. Transfer the chicken pieces to a plate.
3. Add the celery, carrots, onion and garlic to the Dutch oven and cook until the vegetables are browned and begin to caramelize, about 6–7 minutes, stirring once halfway through. Add the tomato paste and cook 1–2 minutes more. Add the wine and stir to scrape up the browned bits on the pot bottom. Add the tomatoes, chicken stock, thyme and bay leaves, and bring the liquid to a simmer. Return the chicken to the pot, cover, and bake until the chicken begins to pull away from the bone, 45–60 minutes. To serve, remove the thyme sprigs and bay leaves. Serve the chicken and sauce over steamed rice, pasta or polenta, as desired.
If you like a spicy sauce, add crushed red pepper flakes or a pinch of cayenne when you add the tomato paste.