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Cacciatore Chicken

This is a dish that was something of a revelation to me in second year.  Although I'm from a big Italian family, I'd never come across it, either at home or on holiday in Italy, but apparently it's quite popular in Tuscany.  This dish is fantastic, it's really tasty, cheap and couldn't be simpler to make.  Try and use chicken leg quarters as it's a cheap cut of the animal, but provides a good amount of meat. 

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2 Chicken leg quarters (not drumsticks)

Fresh rosemary and fresh thyme (Dried can be used although not to garnish)

2 or 3 bay leaves

2 cans of chopped tomato

2 teaspoons of Tomato paste/puree

6 anchovy fillets

1 lemon

handful of Green/Black olives

3 cloves of fresh garlic

Good olive oil

Half a bottle of Red wine

Pinch of Flaked chilli

Teaspoon of sugar

Handful of plain flour


Black Pepper



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Place the chicken leg quarters, two or three bay leaves, a few sprigs of rosemary and a few grinds of salt and pepper in a bowl.


Now, get two cloves of garlic and simply crush them under your palm, not into oblivion but just so they break a little.  Remove the skin and place in bowl.  At this point, add your wine until the chicken is covered and give the contents of the bowl a good rub together to work in all the flavours. Cover the bowl and place in the fridge to allow the meat to marinade, I would recommend one to two hours, however, 24 hours would be ideal.


While you allow the chicken to marinade you can be getting on with making the sauce. You are basically going to be making a "Puttanesca" which literally translates as something like prostitute sauce.  Nice.  Get a good pan and heat some olive oil in the bottom.  Slice a clove of Garlic very thin so it will dissolve in the hot oil and not brown or burn.


Once the garlic is in the oil, add two cans of chopped tomatoes, and stir to get all that garlic oil involved then add the tomato puree.  I would add salt and pepper (to taste) at this point, a little flaked chilli and a pinch of sugar. 


Allow to simmer, then add some chopped olives and some chopped anchovy fillets.  If you're not a fan of anchovy you can leave it out, but It really does add a certain kick to this sauce.  Cover your pan and let the sauce reduce a bit on a medium heat.


When you've allowed the chicken to marinade for at least an hour, take it out and with kitchen towel just pat it dry and place to one side.  With the herb infused wine, you might want to pour a little into the sauce, however, use a sieve if doing so as you don't want any big lumps of garlic or bay leaves. 



Take your chicken now and lightly dust with a little plain flour.  Get a nice, heavy frying pan and heat a bit of olive oil in it.  Once the oil is hot, place the floured chicken skin side down and add a few sprigs of thyme and a splash of lemon juice.  Allow the chicken to cook on both sides till the skin is a golden brown colour. 



Once your happy with the chicken, place in a deep baking dish and cover with the puttanesca sauce.  Place the dish in a preheated oven (at around 220 degrees) and leave for an hour.  After an hour, grab a knife and cut a shallow incision in the meat to see if it's cooked - the juices should be running clear with no traces of blood or pink flesh.  Serve with some roast potatoes done in olive oil, garlic and rosemary and a baby leaf salad.

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