Makes 6 servings
Hands-on time: 10 minutes
Total preparation time: 30 minutes
I love Chicken Cacciatore. When I opened up A Voce, some – what do you call them? – ah – food snobs, and even some chefs (who will remain unnamed) busted my chops about it. “Who puts chicken cacciatore on a serious restaurant menu?” they would bellow. “It’s so pedestrian! So boring!” I would smile politely and walk away. I mean – ok – it’s Chicken Cacciatore. What – you want the chicken legs to jump up and dance on the table? I grant you, it’s not Molecular Gastronomy; it’s not a French dish with 42 ingredients which takes 3 days and a crew of 12 to assemble. It’s just a friggin’ great dish, simple and delicious – if it’s made well, there’s nothing boring about it. There’s no one recipe for this: some people put peppers, some people put tomatoes, some people put olives, some people put all three. I prefer roasting the chicken separately and then marrying the sauce and the roast chicken afterwards. This is my Chicken Cacciatore AC.
6 whole chicken legs (about 3 lbs), cut in half
1 1/4 teaspoons salt, divided
1/2 teaspoon freshly milled black pepper
1/2 teaspoon Sicilian oregano
3 tablespoons olive oil, divided
2 links fresh hot Italian sausage (about 1/4 pound), sliced, optional
1 onion, sliced
1 small bulb of fennel, sliced thin
1 clove garlic, sliced thin
1/4 cup white wine
3 roasted red and/or yellow peppers
10 San Marzano canned tomatoes
3/4 cup green olives (preferably marinated), halved
1/4 cup fresh basil, chopped
1/4 cup fresh parsley, chopped
Turn the broiler on to high. Season all sides of the chicken with 1 teaspoon salt, the pepper, and oregano; drizzle with 1 tablespoon of the olive oil. Place on a rack in a broiler pan. Broil for 2 1/2 minutes, then turn the pan around so the tops cook evenly. Broil for another 2 1/2 minutes, until the tops are crispy. Turn the broiler off and turn the oven on to 375 degrees F. Bake until cooked through, about 15 minutes, or until you can cut into a piece and find no red bits.
Heat the remaining 2 tablespoons oil over medium heat. If using the sausage, add to the pan and cook to render the fat. Add the onion and the fennel and cover. Cook for 3 minutes, until slightly soft. Add the garlic and stir well to coat and combine. Add the white wine and cook down until it evaporates – 30 seconds or so. Add the peppers and tomatoes. Cook for 20 minutes.
Add the green olives and cook together 1 minute. Turn off the heat and add the basil, the parsley and the cooked chicken. Mix everything together, being sure to coat the chicken well in the sauce. Serve immediately, with generous portions of the sauce poured over the chicken.