I’m writing this as the skies darken in the late afternoon and outside there is a distinct nip in the air. Not that looking in the greenhouse would reveal the autumnal weather, with all the tomato plants still fruiting, and even flowering. This has been the first year we have really managed to successfully grow tomatoes, not least because its the first year we have had a greenhouse at the plot. Our four plants have kept us in tomatoes for most of the late summer and continue to do so with gusto. So, most meals now seem to have some tomato content. Yesterday’s meal was a recent discovery, and a perfect dish for a chilly autumnal evening. Hunter’s Chicken (Pollo alla Cacciatora), is a traditional Italian dish, cooked and eaten by many families, and as such has many variants depending on what was hunted to go in it. Like Felicity Cloake (whose recipe I based mine on), I reckon rabbit was probably the meat of choice, but chicken legs with their juicy dark meat is what I used.
What you will need(Serves 4) Knob of butter 2 tbsp olive oil 4 chicken legs, divided into thighs and drumsticks. Seasoned flour, to dust 2 heads of garlic, cut horizontally Small bunch of rosemary 1 carrot, peeled and diced 1 stick of celery, diced 1 anchovy fillet (chopped) Half a glass of white wine 250ml decent chicken stock If like me you have a glut to use up, 150g really ripe fresh tomatoes, skinned and chopped (or an equivalent amount of plum tomatoes in juice) 250g quick cook polenta Knob of butter 50g Parmesan Heat the butter and oil in a large, heavy-based casserole dish over a medium-high heat. Next dust the chicken pieces in the seasoned flour, then fry them in batches until golden brown on all sides. Take the chicken out of the pan and set aside. Slowly fry the garlic, rosemary, carrot and celery, until it is softened and started to colour. Pour in the wine and use a spoon to scrape the deliciously crispy bits off the bottom of the pan as the liquid reduces. Add the stock and tomatoes, and return the chicken to the pan. Bring to a simmer, cover, turn down the heat and cook gently for 45 minutes, until the meat is falling from the bone.
I served the chicken with polenta (a staple of northern Italy), which I made using the instructions on the packet and added parmesan and butter before serving.