Hunter's-Style Chicken

By • November 15, 2010 74 Comments

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Author Notes: I’ve skewed pretty heavily toward comfort food dinners of late, despite, or perhaps because of, my long workdays and the fact that a stubborn bug I thought I’d conquered has come back with a vengeance. The dishes that appeal to me these days are the culinary equivalent of a big chunky sweater, a fleece blanket, a roaring fire sending forth the earthy aroma of woodsmoke, something to force the chill from my bones and warm me to my toes. Braises and stews, creamy starchy sides, our enameled cast iron cookware has gotten a workout. I wrote up a spin on Mario Batali’s “cacciatore” ages ago on my blog, and with a Pat’s Pastured Poulet Rouge in our fridge, one of many goodies we brought home from Saturday’s Wintertime Farmers’ Market in Pawtucket, I decided a do-over was in order. There’s a bit of prep involved at the start, breaking down the bird, browning it in batches, soaking dried mushrooms and sautéing fresh, building layers of flavor in your pot, but once everything is in the oven with its parchment cap in place, you can kick back with a Negroni and enjoy the aromas wafting your way. Served over a creamy parmesan polenta, this is comfort food of the highest order. - lastnightsdinnerlastnightsdinner

Food52 Review: Lastnightsdinner's variation on chicken cacciatore (which, after brushing up on our culinary Italian, we learned literally means "hunter's-style chicken") is a belly-warming winter staple with a few details that set it apart from other braised chickens you may know: the subtle perfume of the sweet vermouth (we recommend pouring yourself a nip while the chicken simmers away), the sauce-bolstering grated carrot, the one-two mushroom punch of dried porcini and fresh cremini. Serve with your favorite comfort carb -- polenta, mashed potatoes or couscous would all be happy landing pads for the rich, warming sauce and tender shreds of chicken. - A&MThe Editors

Serves 4-6

  • 1 3 to 3 1/2 lb. chicken, quartered, or an equivalent amount of skin-on parts of your choice
  • Kosher or sea salt
  • 1 cup dried porcini mushrooms
  • 1 cup boiling water
  • grapeseed oil
  • extra-virgin olive oil
  • 1/2 pound crimini mushrooms
  • 2 ounces red (Italian/sweet) vermouth
  • 2 cups chopped white or yellow onion
  • 1 small carrot, peeled and grated (about 1/2 cup)
  • 3 cups chopped ripe San Marzano tomatoes (or an equivalent amount of canned peeled Italian plum tomatoes)
  • 1 tablespoon double-concentrated tomato paste
  • 1 cup dry red wine
  • a pinch of red chile flakes
  • 3 tablespoons chopped fresh herbs (I used a mixture of fresh thyme, savory, and flat-leaf parsley)
  1. Preheat oven to 325 degrees. Arrange the chicken pieces on a platter and pat dry. Season well with salt and set aside.
  2. Cover the porcini with the boiling water and let steep until the mushrooms are soft. Remove the mushrooms, finely chop and set aside. Strain the mushroom soaking liquid through a coffee filter to remove any grit, and set aside.
  3. Warm a glug of grapeseed oil with a glug of olive oil in a heavy-bottomed pot (I used a large enameled Dutch oven), and brown the chicken parts in batches, skin-side down, until all chicken is browned and crisp-skinned. Remove the browned chicken pieces to a plate or platter and set aside. Pour off all but a thin layer of the rendered fat.
  4. Trim and quarter the crimini mushrooms and add to the pan. Cook until browned on all sides, then add the chopped porcini and the red vermouth, cooking until the liquid has evaporated. Remove to a bowl and set aside.
  5. Add the chopped onions to the pan with a sprinkle of salt, adding a little more oil if necessary, and cook until soft and opaque. Add the carrot and toss through, then add the chopped tomatoes, tomato paste, chile flakes, wine and reserved mushroom liquid, stirring well and bringing to a simmer.
  6. Toss the chopped herbs with the mushrooms and return to the pot, stirring through. Nestle the chicken pieces on top, being sure to add any of the juices that have accumulated. Cover the pot with a parchment lid, and transfer the pot to the oven. Cook for at least one hour, preferably more, until the chicken is falling-apart tender and the sauce thick and reduced. Serve over creamy polenta with a sprinkle of chopped flat leaf parsley on top.
  • This recipe is a Wildcard Contest Winner!

More Great Recipes: Plums|Chicken|Entrees|Tomatoes|Olive Oil

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Comments (74) Questions (8)


24 days ago beejay45

Still hung up on the sauce (pre-chicken addition) of this recipe. I've made it in a sort of casserole over a cheese-y polenta with leftover grilled corn stirred in, then serve it with a salad and some baked veggies, some baby eggplant, cippoline, baby new potatoes and like that. Great Winter-time vegetarian feast. So glad to have come across this recipe again and just had to re-comment. ) Thanks, again.


9 months ago Phin & Phebes

Made this dish for Thanksgiving yesterday; it was delicious and super easy to make! The chicken was really tender, served it over polenta and it was really, really satisfying. Great comfort meal and great dinner for a small group!



11 months ago Señora Hughes

made this and served over truffled noodles- was delicious and so so easy


over 1 year ago Rebecca

I thought this was great. Used the canned tomatoes and threw in a bunch of whole cloves of garlic because I wanted to use them up. If your sauce isn't thick enough, just strain it when you're done and cook down the liquid on the stove top for 10 minutes or so.


over 1 year ago Kerynn Fisher

This is, hands down, my favorite found-on-the-internet recipe. I'll make it several times each winter and freeze in small batches for later. It takes well to adaptations - I generally use boneless chicken thighs rather than the whole chicken, just cremini mushrooms (no porcini) and whatever canned tomatoes I have on hand. It's never let me down...


almost 2 years ago AnnaBell

I was surprised to find this a bit on the bland side. I added capers to the reheated leftovers and they were exactly the briny brightness the sauce needed. My crispy chicken skin became really soft and soggy in the oven. I would remove it next time. The chicken was incredibly tender, so there's that.


almost 2 years ago procrastibaker

I made this last night and my boyfriend and I both loved it! Used 1.5 lbs of chicken thighs and 1.5 lbs of drumsticks instead of a whole chicken, so that we got all the juicy, tender dark meat. I used canned, fire-roasted tomatoes instead of fresh, which worked well, but be sure if you go that route to drain them completely. I was lazy about it and instead wound up simmering the sauce for an additional 15 minutes before adding the chicken and putting the pot in the oven. Served it over creamy parmesan polenta with broccoli on the side and cleaned our plates, with plenty of leftovers for the rest of the week.


about 2 years ago za'atar

This is a solid, one-pot dish that is easy to reheat and eat throughout the week. I wouldn't serve it for company, but it's just the kind of food you want to eat when it's cold outside. I served it with barley.


about 2 years ago beejay45

One of the things I like best here is that people aren't afraid to sub ingredients or do things a little differently. In that spirit, I made this as a sauce, then topped it with half a butterflied roast chicken left from a previous dinner. I left the lid off altogether so it would reduce quickly while heating the already cooked meat. It was amazingly good! We stuck with the polenta and loved that so much that we served it another day for breakfast - leftover polenta topped with the sauce, with an egg on top of that. What a zingy way to start the day. ;) Thanks, lastnightsdinner. And what an appropriate handle you have.


over 2 years ago Lena,Goldin

After reading all of the wonderful reviews... I was disappointed with the outcome. The dish was flat and lacking in flavor. I followed the recipe exactly. Very sad :(


over 2 years ago Rita Whelan

What do you think of serving this with rice instead of polenta??


over 2 years ago Daria Faulkner

I served with brown rice and it was delicious.


over 2 years ago Daria Faulkner

I used dry vermouth, tomatoes I had at home (some random 365 diced) and a mix of porcini and wild other wild mushroom (which I think were much more flavourful) and only fresh parsley and dried thyme (the next door store was out of fresh thyme) and I must admit, it was one of the best dishes I have ever made. I cooked it in the oven for 1,5 h and then turned the oven off and left it there for another 15-20 min. The chicken was falling off the bone. It's more than delicious (I made it for my husband's week-lunch and I think it's too fancy of the dish for it))


almost 3 years ago Tbird

Okay - made this tonight. Having a bunch of people over tomorrow so doubled the recipe. Unfortunately, my very large roasting pan I wanted to use was missing in action, so had to use two different pans, and split the ingredients.
Somehow did it turn out? From the oohs and ahhs from the family this evening asking to sample, I'd say "pretty darn good!".
I did combine both into a large pot and out in the fridge tonight - bet tomorrow the favors will be even more concentrated (will also be able to get more of the fat out.)
It was a process, and not an "inexpensive" meal (those dried porcinis are pricey!). But for a Sunday late afternoon Supper I think it will be a crowd pleaser. Wondering what to serve it with: rice or creamy polenta.
Quick question: what's the reason for the Grapesed oil with the olive oil? I used it - just wondering the benefit. Thanks again Food52, for another winning recipe!


almost 3 years ago Helens

I made this tonight using port instead of red vermouth and canned plum tomatoes and it worked really well. I also added some chopped anchovies with the porcini and some cubed pancetta with the crimini mushrooms because I thought it couldn't hurt. Oh, and some whole garlic cloves went in as well because why would you not put garlic in a dish like this? Be warned, this does make quite a lot of food. Don't do what I did and use a pot that is too small (i.e. the sauce was level with the rim when I added the chicken) because its just hassle. Anyway, my girlfriend really liked this and she's not normally all that keen on this sort of thing. Very tasty.


about 3 years ago tsp

reminds me of stracotto, but with chicken instead of beef


over 3 years ago BavarianCook

Made this tonight - just wonderful. So easy and with ingredients readily on hand. Also served it over polenta that I added a few handfuls of (frozen) corn to. This one is a keeper!!


over 3 years ago jillyp

I cannot stop making this recipe. It's a bowl-licking hit all around - thanks!


over 3 years ago ubs2007

Wow! Made this last night. Took us 1 hr & 40 min cook time, but the results were amazing. The chicken was tender and the flavors were bursting with attitude and comfort esp in 15 degree Manhattan weather. We paired it with mashed potatoes and kale! This was an incredibly flavorful recipe. Thank you so much for sharing!


over 3 years ago lastnightsdinner

Tarragon and Brenzo - I'm so sorry this didn't work out for you. I have made this both with fresh plum tomatoes (the San Marzano-style ones available in the States, as well as Canestrino and other similar varieties) from my farmers' market when they're in season, as well as with canned San Marzanos (sans juice) the rest of the year. I'm wondering if you covered your pot with a pot lid, or with the parchment paper lid I mention in step 6? That would make a difference in terms of how the sauce reduces (or doesn't) in the oven.


over 3 years ago Tarragon

Thanks LND. I will try again and will either use fresh roma tomatoes or drain the canned tomatoes better. And maybe even uncover for the last 1/2 hour or so. The flavor of the dish was quite good and I'd like to make this again. (I did use the parchment lid; first time I had ever heard of that and I am eternally grateful to you for that little tidbit!)


over 3 years ago Tarragon

I had the same results as Brenzo (although I am pleased to say that my dish looked exactly like the photo!). I also used canned whole San Marzano tomatoes, after draining most, but not all, of the liquid. Other than that I followed the recipe exactly. Now, reading the recipe again, I am thinking that it wants us to use fresh, vs canned tomatoes, which may have been the issue with my dish. (Although I'm not sure how we can source fresh San Marzano tomatoes in the US).