Chicken Cacciatora

This is my version of the famous Italian classic – best made in the autumn when there's a glut of red, ripe, full-flavoured tomatoes, but it's still good in winter, as there are now some well-flavoured varieties available. Either way, the tomatoes need to be very red and ripe.

Serves 4

This recipe is taken from How to Cook Book Two and The Delia Collection: Chicken.

Chicken Cacciatora
 1 x 3 lb (1.35 kg) Traditional Free Range chicken, jointed into 8 pieces
 1 tablespoon olive oil
 2 large-ish onions, peeled and thickly sliced
 1 lb 8 oz (700 g) ripe red tomatoes
 2 large cloves garlic, peeled and crushed
 1 level tablespoon tomato purée
 1 level tablespoon fresh rosemary leaves, bruised and finely chopped
 1 bay leaf
 10 fl oz (275 ml) dry white wine
 1 tablespoon white wine vinegar
 salt and freshly milled black pepper

You will also need a lidded flameproof casserole with a capacity of 6 pints (3.5 litres).


First of all heat the oil in the casserole over a high heat and season the chicken joints with salt and pepper. Then, when the oil gets really hot and begins to shimmer, fry the chicken – in 2 batches – to brown it well on all sides: remove the first batch to a plate while you tackle the second; each joint needs to be a lovely golden-brown colour all over. When the second batch is ready, remove it to join the rest.

Now add the onions to the casserole, turn the heat down to medium and cook for 8-10 minutes, or until they are softened and nicely browned at the edges. Meanwhile, skin the tomatoes. To do this, pour boiling water over them and leave them for exactly 1 minute before draining and slipping off their skins (protect your hands with a cloth if they are too hot), then chop them quite small.

When the onions are browned, add the garlic to the casserole, let this cook for about 1 minute, then add the tomatoes, tomato purée, rosemary, bay leaf, white wine and white wine vinegar. Now add some seasoning and bring it up to the boil, then let it bubble and reduce (without covering) to about half its original volume, which will take about 20 minutes. Now add the chicken pieces, stir them around a bit, then put the lid on and allow to simmer gently for 40 minutes, until the chicken joints are cooked through. This is good served with green tagliatelle, noodles, rice or a simple vegetable.

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