Italian Chicken Dishes
Chicken is such a bland meat that it is ideal for allowing additional ingredients to sing in the casserole or skillet. This approach is mirrored in the many and varied approaches taken to cooking with the bird from region to region in Italy.
Depending on the compass point, it may be that Piedmontese mushrooms play a major role, or one or two of the fabulous lemons to be found in Campania, even some Marsala wine from the island of Sicily. If the recipe does not call for the whole bird, then breasts, legs, livers, or wings can be bought ready prepared from the butcher. Those who have the skill could cut down on the domestic budget by jointing a bird themselves and reserving the remaining body parts for other meals, not forgetting that the carcass can be boiled up with some root vegetables to make a stock for a risotto or sauce.
Chicken CacciatoraMany regions have a version of alla cacciatora, or in the style of the hunter. This can involve the addition of peppers or mushrooms together with a good white or red wine. As with all Italian recipes, the seasons play a crucial role so an earthier more autumnal approach may be substituted for a lighter touch during the summer months.
Cacciatora calls for a heavy casserole pan. A soffritto of onions, carrots and leeks are sweated down, then the floured chicken pieces are coloured, garlic added and the wine poured over. After the alcohol has been allowed to burn off, the additional vegetables and a good stock are added along with whichever herbs of choice. Rosemary is synonymous with chicken but sage also works particularly well with mushrooms. The cacciatora is then allowed to simmer on the stove for one to two hours until the evaporation of the water and the flour combine to thicken up the sauce.