Don’t you just love dishes that pretty much cook for themselves and all you have to do is toss (or nicely arrange) the ingredients together and your job is complete? I do. Especially when I am crazy busy and every minute counts and is precious. This recipe is just right when you are pressed for time.
Cacciatore is an Italian dish and it means “hunter-style,” and as most hunter style dishes, it doesn’t require much preparation or any lengthy steps to put it together. In cacciatore, chicken is arranged on a baking casserole, surrounded by chunks of juicy tomato. Onion, rosemary, bay leaves, butter, and a good doze of olive oil on top, and the dish goes in the oven. Out of the oven and the chicken is golden, the juices have blended together, and you are ready to eat hunter style. Which I love. I also like soaking up the juices from the pan with chunks of freshly baked crusty bread. I wonder if hunters do that, too. Molto delizioso!
Adapted from “Bake Until Bubbly,” by Clifford A. Wright
One 3-pound chicken, cut into 10 pieces or chicken parts, such as drumsticks or thighs, or a combination (do not use chicken breast only as it will not release much juices)
1 large onion, cut into eighths
2 bay leaves
2 sprigs fresh rosemary
2 tablespoons unsalted butter, cut into small pieces
1 pound (500 g) ripe plum tomatoes (5 to 7 depending on size), peeled and cut into half, or 3 to 4 wedges if big
Salt and ground black pepper, to taste
1/4 cup extra-virgin olive oil
Preheat the oven to 400ºF (205ºC). Lightly oil a 13 x 9 x 2-inch (33 x 22 X 5cm) baking casserole (I used Pyrex dish).
In the casserole, arrange the chicken pieces and onion. Push the bay leaves and rosemary between the chicken and onion. Dot the casserole with butter. Arrange the cut tomatoes, cut side down attractively around the chicken. Pour 1/4 cup of olive oil over everything. Season with salt and pepper, to taste. Bake until the chicken is golden brown, the edges of the onion are blackening, and the sauce is bubbling, about 1 1/2 hours.
Discard the bay leaves and rosemary sprigs if you can find them easily, and serve hot.