Skip to content Skip to sidebar Skip to footer

Chicken cacciatore: recipe from Romagna

Chicken cacciatora: recipe from Romagna

The recipe for chicken cacciatore is part of the Italian peasant tradition, and you should know the dish knows many variations.

In addition to regional differences, almost every family guards its own version.

Its preparation ignites debate. For example, there is debate about the base (oil or lard? Sautéed or garlic?), whether there should be tomato, flavorings (herbs or lemon zest?), and wine (white or red?).

Chicken cacciatore recipe from Emilia-Romagna

One recipe and many different versions

I do not intend to make it clear. Chicken cacciatore is a recipe in which everyday life has played an important role. Each family has to preserve its version and memories. But something interesting remains to be said.

I start with the aspect that impresses me the most. It is an ancient peasant recipe that has found its way into the pages of the Artusi collection (Recipe No. 208) since the first edition (1891). It is a significant fact, given that the oral transmission of the recipes of the cucina povera created a delay in their codification.

The inclusion of the dish tells us that the Romagna-born gastronome knew it and considered it an Italian recipe widely spread throughout the country.

Even if some regions claim the recipe.
Emilia-Romagna, especially Romagna, Umbria, Tuscany, and Marche, consider chicken cacciatore a typical regional dish.

The origin

Despite minor variations, there are basically two preparations that remain.
The first is from northern Italy. Here chicken cacciatore is a stew with a base of onion or herbs. The second one is from central Italy, where we often find garlic, vinegar or broth, olives, and sometimes mushrooms.

The recipe dates back to the Middle Ages (14th century). At that time, probably the dish was with the game. It would clarify the reference to the word hunter (cacciatore). Less likely is the explanation that links the word to the use of flavorings, particularly garlic, and rosemary, which are not always part of the recipe.

We know that at some point, farmyard animals entered the recipe preparation, supplanting game. Chicken, rabbit, guinea fowl, and even lamb flavored the pot.

At least, in the Middle Ages, the dish was without tomato because it had not yet arrived from America. Today, the tomato version is the most popular, but now you know why you can find it in bianco.

Chicken cacciatore recipe from Emilia-Romagna

Two recipes from my home

Some people start the preparation with a traditional sauté base (carrot, celery, onion), while others use only onion or garlic. Many use herbs (rosemary, sage, and bay leaf). Some mix the chicken with olives or mushrooms. Finally, some fade with white wine and others with red wine.

At home, it was a typical stew dish on winter Sunday evenings when grandma always cooked a stew. Or on summer Sundays, in that case, it was served at lunch and sometimes at room temperature.

Grandma would brown an onion cut in half in a pan with oil and butter. When she removed the onion, she would add finely chopped celery and carrot.

After sealing the chicken over high heat, she would add a little rosemary, sage, and bay leaf. Then he would salt and pour in the sauce. Often at the end of the summer, he would add chopped tomatoes that he had blanched earlier to remove the skin and inner seeds.

Finally, he would lower the flame and continue cooking, always on the stove, with the pan half-covered. In addition to chicken, she often prepared rabbit cacciatore.

However, my mom claims that the best chicken cacciatora was Aunt Fanì’s.

Chicken cacciatore: a recipe from Emilia-Romagna

Tellarini sisters 

Fanì, Lucia, Adalcisa, and Assunta, my great-grandmother, were born in the early 1900s in the family home in Bagnara di Romagna (Ravenna). They were not rich, but they had some fields and an orchard.

My great-grandmother married and went to live elsewhere, staying in the country, and so did Adalcisa (I wrote about her daughter Elsa in the post dedicated to Torta Gelato and the dog named Carlina).

Among the sisters, Lucia was the one who did not like living in the country, and as soon as she married, she went to live in town. On the contrary, Fanì, the eldest child, was like an industrious bee, and she inherited the little farm, remaining there to live for the rest of her life, first with her parents and then with her husband and children.

The aunt lived, I hope, quite happily until she was ninety-something in the home where she was born and where my mom remembers having spent long and beautiful summers.

My mother remembers that Auntie Fanì used to bread the chicken like a cutlet with flour-egg-breadcrumbs (the flour is needed so that the egg would stick to the meat). She would seal the meat without frying it in the pan before adding the tomato puree.

At home, I remember different sides served with cacciatore chicken: baked potatoes, seasonal salad, or friggione, the famous Bologna onion sauce.

Don’t forget the basket bread to make the scarpetta.

Buona cucina, Monica

Chicken mon amour

Among home chicken recipes, I loved chicken in the pan, a simple dish full of flavor that, I remember, starved me since the cooking. Less rustic than the previous recipe but one that is sure to impress: chicken stuffed with chestnuts. That dish has accompanied so many fall and winter Sunday lunches at home!

More chicken cacciatore recipes

Many make the dish using rabbit. I leave you two versions of rabbit cacciatore: the first one is from Great British chefs website; the second one is from Bon Appétit.

Among the regional recipes for chicken cacciatore, I would mention the Tuscan-style version with olives from Jul’s Kitchen.

Stay in the know!

To receive unpublished recipes, tips, and food stories, sign up for the Tortellini&CO newsletter. You can disable it anytime.

Keep in Touch

If you like, follow me on InstagramPinterest and Facebook.

Chicken cacciatore: a recipe from Emilia-Romagna

Chicken cacciatore recipe

serves 4

eggs, 2 regular
flour and breadcrumbs to taste
1 kg chicken cut into bite-sized pieces
butter, 100 g
olive oil and salt to taste
white onion, 1 small
carrot, 1 small
celery, ½ rib
rosemary sprig, 1 cm
sage, 1 leaf
bay leaf, 2 leaves
tomato puree, 600 g
water, 100 ml
red or white wine, 100 ml

Breading the chicken is optional. If not, follow the cooking directions by putting the chicken directly into the pan to cook


Crack eggs into a bowl, add a pinch of salt, and beat with a fork. Pour some flour and breadcrumbs into two different dishes.

Lightly flour the chicken pieces, coat them in egg, then in bread crumbs, arrange on a plate, and keep aside.

Peel onion, cut in half, and keep aside.

Finely chop carrot and celery.

In a large saucepan, melt the butter with a few tablespoons of olive oil and add a pinch of salt. Put in the onion and cook on a low flame and small stove for 2 minutes. Remove onion, add chopped celery and carrot, and stir. Then add bay leaf, rosemary, and sage to the pan and play the chicken on the bottom. The pieces haven’t been overlapping.

After 3 minutes, turn the chicken over. Cook for two more minutes, then raise the heat slightly, pour in the wine, and wait one minute before adding tomato puree.

Cook for about an hour with the pan half-covered on a small stove and medium flame. Halfway through cooking, turn the chicken.

Serve the dish warm or at room temperature with slices of bread to make scarpetta.

Store leftovers in the refrigerator. You can season the pasta with sauce leftover.

Recipes from Emilia-Romagna

Recipes from Emilia-Romagna

Leave a comment

© 2024 Tortellini&Co. All Rights Reserved.