Hunters Chicken. If you asked me what is my favorite chicken dish from my childhood, it’s Hunters Chicken. My mom used to make this dish which is a version of chicken cacciatore. It’s a savory stewed chicken dish with tomatoes, peppers, onions, mushrooms, garlic, herbs and black olives and served over rice. I’ve based my version on the compiliation of two 1960s recipes published in Sunset magazine in May 1966.
My parents and I lived in Vacaville, California in the 1960s and early 1970s. My dad was stationed at Travis Air Force Base. The California life included eating good healthy foods and using what was seasonally available in cooking. Sunset magazine was a mainstay for the good life in the West. My mom had a subscription to Sunset so we often ate meals made from recipes in the magazine.
The article in Sunset magazine boasted two different recipes for Hunter’s Chicken. One for Polo Alla Cacciatora Con Peperoni Verde E Pomodori E Funghi (Chicken, Hunter’s Style, with Green Peppers, Tomatoes, and Mushrooms) and the other for Pollo Alla Cacciatora Con Pomodori E Olive (Chicken, Hunter’s Style, with Tomatoes and Olives). My recipe is adapted from the two published recipes with some minor changes. I use chunks of boneless chicken breasts in my recipe but you can use chicken parts such as legs, thighs, or bone-in breasts. Tomatoes, peppers, mushrooms and black olives (instead of the green pimento stuffed ones) are seasoned with garlic, basil, oregano, bay leaf, red wine, anchovy paste and chicken stock.
I love to make this savory chicken dish on cold winter evenings. It certainly fits with in the “comfort food” category. Hunters Chicken can be served over cooked rice or pasta. The length of my recipe might make you think that this dish is hard to make. It’s really not, and certainly worth the effort.
Start out by slicing some mushrooms and bell pepper.
Dice some onion.
Cut two chicken breasts into one-inch cubes.
Season some flour with salt and pepper.
Coat the chicken cubes with the seasoned flour.
Working in batches, saute the seasoned coated chicken cubes in olive oil and melted butter in a chef’s pan over medium heat. Brown the chicken cubes on each side but no need to cook them through at this point as they will cook during simmering. Remove each batch to a plate and keep warm (covered in foil) until all of the chicken is cooked.
Melt some butter in the chicken drippings. Add the chopped onion and some garlic and saute until the onion has slightly softened. Do not brown or burn the garlic.
Add the sliced bell pepper and saute some more.
Add some red wine, dried basil, oregano, and bay leaf. Stir to scrape up some of the brown bits on the bottom of the pan.
Add the sliced mushrooms.
Add the diced tomatoes.
Add the browned chicken cubes.
Add the crushed tomatoes, chicken stock and anchovy paste and stir. Cover and simmer for 30 minutes over low heat until the chicken is cooked through, stirring occasionally.
While the Hunters Chicken is simmering, make a pot of white basmati rice.
When the chicken has cooked through, add the black olives to the Hunters Chicken and cook for 5 more minutes.
Finish the sauce with a pat of butter. Stir and when the butter is melted, remove the bay leaf. The Hunters Chicken is ready to serve.
Fluff the rice with a fork and divide amongst four serving dishes.
Top the rice with the Hunters Chicken, dividing amongst the plates.
And garnish with chopped parsley.
Serve and enjoy!
From the kitchen of A Food Lover’s Delight….
4 oz mushroom caps
1 medium bell pepper, cored and stemmed
1 medium onion, peeled
2 boneless skinless chicken breasts
1/2 c flour
2 t salt
1 t freshly ground black pepper
1 T butter, unsalted
2 T olive oil
2 garlic cloves, minced
2 T butter, unsalted
1 c dry red wine
2 t dried oregano
2 t dried basil
1 dried bay leaf
1 can (14 oz) diced tomatoes
1 can (28 oz) crushed tomatoes
1 c chicken stock
2 T anchovy paste
1 c canned black olives, sliced in half lengthwise
1 T unsalted butter
salt and pepper, to taste
2 cups uncooked basmati rice, prepare according to package directions
2 T finely chopped fresh parsley for garnish
1. Slice the mushroom caps and the green bell pepper. Set aside.
2. Dice the onion. Set aside.
3. Cut the chicken breasts into one inch cubes.
4. In a non-metallic bowl, mix the flour with the salt and pepper.
5. Toss the chicken cubes in the seasoned flour.
6. In a chef’s pan, over medium heat, melt the butter in the olive oil.
7. Working in batches in order to not overcrowd the pan, quickly saute the chicken cubes in the butter and oil until brown on all sides. Do not worry about cooking the chicken through as it will simmer in the sauce.
8. Remove the browned chicken cubes to a plate, cover with foil, and keep warm. Repeat with the next batch of chicken cubes until all of the cubes have been browned.
9. In the same chef’s pan, melt the 2 T butter in the browned chicken pan drippings.
10. Saute the onion and garlic in the browned butter until the onion is translucent.
11. Add the green bell pepper slices and cook a few minutes.
12. Add the red wine, basil, oregano, and bay leaf and simmer for a few minutes, scraping up the brown bits on the bottom of the pan.
13. Add the sliced mushrooms and cook for a few minutes until the mushrooms soften.
14. Add the diced tomatoes, the browned chicken cubes, crushed tomatoes, chicken stock and anchovy paste. Stir well.
15. Cover and simmer over low heat for 30 minutes or until the chicken cubes are cooked through.
16. Prepare the rice according to the package directions. When the rice is done, set aside, covered, and keep warm.
17. When the chicken cubes are cooked through, add the black olives to the Hunters Chicken and cook 5 more minutes.
18. Finish the Hunters Chicken with a pat of butter. Stir until the butter melts.
19. Divide the rice amongst four serving plates.
20. Top the rice with the Hunters Chicken.
21. Sprinkle with the chopped parsley and serve!
Serves 4 as a main course. Offer with some toasted garlic bread and a Caesar salad. Hunters Chicken is sometimes better a day or so after preparation. Let it sit in a sealed container in the refrigerator for up to three days and reheat it for a very tasty meal.
Variations: Serve the Hunters Chicken over pasta such as buttered linguine or spaghetti instead of rice. Use chicken parts such as legs and thighs instead of boneless breasts. Prepare the chicken parts the same way as the chicken breast cubes, tossing in the seasoned flour and sauteing until browned. Swap out the chicken for cubed boneless pork. Garnish with shredded Parmesan cheese along with the parsley. Use green olives instead of black olives. Use dry white wine instead of dry red wine.
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