Hunter's Chicken

During the time that we owned an Italian Restaurant, I made lots of Chicken Cacciatore. My husband liked to call it Hunter’s Chicken to give it a more ‘rural comfort food’ appeal. The menu said one thing, but Joe called it something else! 

Food historians believe that this dish originated in about 1500 in Italy. The lore suggests that hunters returned from the woods with their fowl and along the way, they gathered wild mushrooms and herbs to flavor the pot. 

Long after our restaurant days, I continued to make Hunter’s Chicken for our family and friends. I still love to tell the story of Joe’s interpretation. 

We can attribute this deliciousness to Italy, but truth be told, several cultures have similar dishes. In France it is called Chicken Chasseur, chasseur meaning hunter. In Spain there is another version of the crispy browned chicken smothered in a reduced sauce. 

I’m sharing my version of preparation, but I encourage you to google recipes until you find one that appeals to you. Don’t go buy special ingredients. Use what you have and don’t hesitate to make substitutions. If you don’t have black olives, use green! You don’t have to use chicken. This time, I used a little game hen, because I was cooking for one! If you don’t have olive oil, use canola oil. Make this recipe your own. That is what comfort food is all about. 

Hunter’s Chicken for Joe 

Primary ingredients: 

1 game hen 
Roasted red peppers from a jar, in oil 
Olive oil – garlic infused 
Green olives 
A handful of fresh Mushrooms
1 cup of chopped tomatoes 
1 8-ounce can of tomato sauce 
Italian herbs and spices 

 This is prepared in one pot. Split the game hen. Season with a little salt and pepper and dried Italian herbs. Brown the meat on both sides in a 2 Tablespoons of garlic-infused olive oil. After the skin is browned, remove the meat from the pot and add 1/2 cup of coarsely chopped onion. When the onion starts to soften, add the mushrooms and return the hen to the pot. At this point, add fresh herbs (parsley, basil, rosemary), 1/2 cup of green olives, several slices of roasted red pepper with a little oil from the jar and the tomatoes and tomato sauce. Make sure you have enough liquid in the pot to allow the little hen to simmer. Add a cup of hot water if you need it. 

In the last 10 minutes of cooking, you can add a cup of uncooked pasta. You can also skip cooking the pasta with the other ingredients and serve Hunter’s Chicken over rice, fried potatoes or cooked pasta. Make sure you have crusty bread hot from the oven. You won’t want to let even of drop of the broth go to waste!

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