Make Ahead

Hunter's-Style Chicken

November 15, 2010
27 Ratings
Photo by James Ransom
  • Prep time 30 minutes
  • Cook time 1 hour 30 minutes
  • Serves 4-6
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. - lastnightsdinner —lastnightsdinner

Test Kitchen Notes

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&M —The Editors

What You'll Need
  • 1 3 to 3 1/2 lb. chicken, quartered, or an equivalent amount of skin-on parts of your choice
  • 4 pinches or so Kosher or sea salt
  • 1 cup dried porcini mushrooms
  • 1 cup boiling water
  • 1 splash grapeseed oil
  • 1 splash 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
  • 1 pinch 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° F. 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.
Contest Entries

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  • kitchenkittn

103 Reviews

chezjenne January 2, 2024
I made this with limoncello instead of vermouth because that’s what I had and it was DELICIOUS. I will absolutely make this again, it’s much better than the version I’ve made a few times in the past. The method of searing the mushrooms and then evaporating the liquor with the mushrooms gave such great flavor and texture. Thank you for this tip!! I served it all with homestyle noodles, (purchased frozen) and we loved it.
[email protected] November 2, 2022
This is one of my go to winter recipes.
N V. January 29, 2022
This is terrific. I used a little Calabrian chili oil instead of pepper flakes. Gave it a nice even zing in the background. Don’t skip the vermouth. Completely changes the nature of the mushrooms. This holds well. We used it for dinners and lunches all week.
beckandbulow21 May 15, 2021
so yummy
Sixblade K. June 13, 2019
Delicious but not light. Modified using skinless bone-in chicken and it tasted pretty good.
Mike I. December 21, 2020
Complete waste...
drbabs April 5, 2019
I love this recipe so much. I made it tonight with boneless chicken thighs, and I added more mushrooms, zucchini and spinach because we’re trying to eat more plants. It was delicious.
Allison S. January 18, 2019
I'm sorry, but this wasn't a winner for me. I had been looking forward to this for a couple of weeks, ordered good porcini for it. One of the only changes I made was to sautée the tomato paste and red pepper flakes with the onion, I added a bit more salt here and there, some pepper etc. I expected I would get a good rich flavor from the multi umami items included but it was super flat and bland. Not even looking forward to the leftovers unfortunately. I will say that I do tend towards cuisines such as Indian and Thai so for a family that really does like things much more plain this really could be a go to.
tia November 19, 2018
Thanks for the reminder that red wine is really good in tomato sauces! I didn't have quite the right ingredients on hand but it took substitutions like a champ: more crimini mushrooms, porcini salt rather than whole ones, and, those terrors of cooks everywhere, boneless, skinless chicken breasts. I didn't have vermouth or time, so I left out the one and cut the other down to a bare minimum on the stove. It still tasted wonderful! I don't get to cook for myself on weeknights much but I had more time than usual and this was perfect.
Thomas M. October 12, 2018
Are there chicken hunters? Really?
lastnightsdinner October 12, 2018's_chicken
Bill V. December 31, 2019
Yes, really....but Grouse or other game birds are equally delicious, maybe even better.
Jill S. February 11, 2018
Mike you're a genius
Mike I. January 25, 2018
I didn’t have any chicken so I opened up a pack of Carl Buding ham that I had in the refrigerator. I was all out of canned tomatoes so I thought the creamed corn would be a good substitution. I didn’t have any sweet vermouth laying around the house but I did have some Pabst Blue Ribbon beer so I added that instead. I also tossed in some Spam that I had cut up into chunks, iceberg lettuce, Twinkies, fish sticks, Andy Capp Hot Fries, and a touch of root beer
beejay45 January 25, 2018
Very creative. So, how was it?
T April 7, 2018
I tried your alterations because, quite frankly, I was missing similar ingredients and it was amazing. I subbed the cream corn with Lima beans though because I did not have the cream corn. I also was missing root beer, but used cream soda, which helped counter the fact creamed corn was missing. Thanks for suggestions!
lastnightsdinner October 12, 2018
I laugh every time this thread comes up. Thank you :)
steph January 26, 2019
neil S. March 3, 2019
Bill V. December 31, 2019
Holy smoke, uh no thanks.
Sherry Z. November 19, 2017
This recipe is fantastic. Definitely a new favorite in our house. We added fennel because autumn and subbed the dried porcinis for dried lobster mushrooms because that's all the store had. Thanks so much!
Mike I. January 25, 2018
So, you didn’t make the recipe?
kitchenkittn February 17, 2017
As many have noted, this is a heartwarmingly wonderful winter meal. But I've found it to be great in all seasons. As such, I like to add other veggies to the mix such as winter squash(es) or fennel and have even thrown in some peas towards the tail end before. All have worked well, and I think that's part of what makes this such a great recipe!
Stone G. November 30, 2016
Wonderful aromas and outstanding winter meal. Cooked last night for spouses' birthday and she declared it one of the best meals I've ever prepared for her. Followed recipe except added chopped garlic and then some anchovies and black olives (nod to Marcella Hazan) just before it went in over. We felt it had plenty of depth. Did not have savory so added 1 tab thyme and 2 tabs of chopped flat leaf parsley. Served with polenta and steamed broccoli. Will make again exactly.
Shortrib October 22, 2016
Yummy! A bit of effort, but worth it. I wound up with extra sauce which I'll certainly enjoy with another meal. There's not much salt called for, which is maybe why some have found it flat. Suggest you taste the sauce before you add the chicken and adjust to your own taste...... Great recipe.
helen March 27, 2016
I made this tonight and it was scrumptious. Definitely a recipe to hold onto for those cold wintery nights. I didn't have porcini mushrooms so I skipped that step but I think it would have added another note of flavor and depth but without it was still very good. I made lots of sauce so much so that I will probably freeze what remains and use it over chicken cutlets at another dinner. Thank you for a delicious recipe.
Lindsey L. November 2, 2015
what is a parchment lid? just a piece of parchment laid on top of the pot?
lastnightsdinner November 2, 2015
Hi Lindsey - there are good instructions here:
beejay45 August 9, 2015
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.
Phin &. November 28, 2014
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!
Señora H. September 30, 2014
made this and served over truffled noodles- was delicious and so so easy