I have two recipes for chicken cacciatore. One I have already posted (see Chicken Cacciatore) and this one I call Chicken Hunter’s Style. We like both recipes although they are slightly different. As cacciatore means hunter in Italian, it seemed an appropriate way to be able to identify the two.
Chicken Hunter’s Style – breasts of chicken are cooked with diced bacon and onions, sliced mushrooms and plum tomatoes in a seasoned tomato sauce.
You will also need a large sauté pan with lid and a medium-sized serving dish
Warm the serving dish in the oven.
Now heat the oil in the pan over a medium heat, add the chicken and brown on both sides, about 5 minutes. Remove to a plate and set to one side.
Put the bacon in the pan and sauté for 1 minute, tossing frequently. Then add the onions and mushrooms, reduce the heat a little, and cook until the onions are soft and the mushrooms are golden, about 5 minutes. Stir through the garlic and cook for a further minute.
Next stir in the wine and tomatoes, then return the chicken to the pan and sprinkle with the parsley and seasoning.
Cover and gently simmer for 30 minutes, turning the chicken halfway through. Add the basil during the last 5 minutes of cooking.
Remove the chicken to the warmed serving dish and pour over the sauce.
* 3 sprigs of fresh parsley, 2 sprigs of fresh thyme and 1 bay leaf, tied together. Or the leaves only in dried form enclosed in a square of cheesecloth and tied. In the U.K. these are already prepared in a small sachet.
You will also need a casserole with lid.
Preheat the oven to 180°C (350°F) (gas 4)
Heat half the oil in a frying pan/skillet over a medium heat. Add the chicken pieces to the pan and sauté on both sides for about 5 minutes until they are golden brown. Transfer to the casserole.
Add the remaining oil to the pan, tip in the vegetables and bacon. Stir to coat in the oil and then sauté for about 5 minutes.
Reduce the heat and stir in the flour and cook for 2–3 minutes. Then gradually add the stock, stirring constantly. Bring to the boil and continue stirring until the sauce thickens.
Remove from the heat and add the tomatoes and sherry. Season and give it a good stir.
Finally, add the bouquet garni and sliced mushrooms to the casserole and then pour in the sauce. Cover and cook in the oven for 1 hour.
115g (4 oz) smoked streaky bacon/smoked side bacon, cut into strips (4 rashers)
12 shallots, peeled and trimmed
1 tbsp flour
475ml (16 fl oz) good chicken stock (2 cups)
150ml (5 fl oz) white wine (⅔ cup)
3 tarragon sprigs, leaves finely chopped and stalks reserved
3 tbsp crème fraîche
salt and ground black pepper
serve with baby potatoes and seasonal vegetables.
Heat the oil in a frying pan/skillet. Add the chicken and sauté over a medium heat until golden on both sides, about 5 minutes. Remove and set aside.
Now add the bacon to the pan and fry for about 3 minutes to release the fat. Then reduce the heat and add the shallots. Continue cooking for a further 5 minutes, stirring occasionally, until both are golden in colour.
Next, sprinkle over the flour and stir to absorb the fat and juices. Cook for 1 minute and then gradually stir in the stock, wine and tarragon stalks.
Return the chicken to the pan, cover and simmer over a gentle heat for 45 minutes.
Using a slotted spoon, remove the chicken, bacon and shallots to a plate and keep warm. Strain the sauce and discard the tarragon stalks. Then return the sauce to the pan/skillet and reduce by half. Now stir in the crème fraîche and chopped tarragon leaves. Season to taste.
Return the chicken, bacon and shallots to the pan and stir to coat.
This chicken and mixed cheese bake is made with bite-sized pieces of chicken, strips of bacon and mushrooms, sautéed and then baked in a mixed cheese sauce with a grated Parmesan and breadcrumb topping. A very simple dish that tastes really good.
Cut the bacon into thin strips. Then heat the oil in a frying pan/skillet and add the bacon. Cook over a medium heat until the bacon starts to crisp, about 5 minutes. Remove from the pan with a slotted spoon and set aside.
Next, cut the chicken into bite-size pieces and put in the pan in a single layer. Brown all over, adding a little extra olive oil if needed. This may need to be done 2 batches. Remove from the pan and set aside with the bacon.
Then put the mushrooms in the pan and sauté over a low heat for 2 minutes, turning occasionally.
Finally, pour in the sauce and heat through.
Return the chicken and bacon to the pan and stir to coat with the sauce. Season and transfer to a gratin dish.
Mix together the breadcrumbs and Parmesan cheese and scatter over the chicken mixture.
Bake near the top of the oven for 20 minutes until the breadcrumbs are golden and the sauce is bubbling.
I’m indebted to Paul Hollywood, the English baker and celebrity chef, for this recipe. These bacon and cheddar loaves make a great lunch or snack and are enjoyed by all the family.
I have played about with his quantities of ingredients, though. The recipe in his book “How to Bake” recommends that 500g, or just over a pound, of flour will provide 4 servings. Perhaps he has a bigger appetite than I do, but that’s equivalent to a quarter of a large loaf in each serving. And I feel that the bacon and cheddar gets a bit lost in all the bread.
My adapted recipe below halves the quantity of bread and increases the proportion of bacon and cheese. Perhaps you’d like to try different amounts and let me know how you get on?
Baking bread is not difficult if you follow this 3-step process. Each step involves a ‘wait period’ during which you can get on with something else. For more information about the technique I use, here’s a link to my page on Breadmaking.
Pour the flours into a mixing bowl and make a well in the middle. Add most of the water and mix thoroughly with a wooden spoon or a plastic dough scraper. If some flour is left in the bottom, add the remainder of the water. It may not need it all. Just make sure that all the flour has been taken up.
Cover the bowl with a tea towel and leave it to stand for 20–30 minutes.
In the meantime, prepare for the next step by weighing out the salt, yeast, and butter.
At the end of the 20–30 minutes, melt the butter and add it with the salt and yeast to the mixture, making sure that the yeast doesn’t come into contact with a wodge of salt, and mix well.
Cover the bowl with the tea towel and leave for 10 minutes.
Lightly oil your hands and the work surface, and tip the dough out. Take the edge of the dough that’s furthest away from you and fold it towards you to meet the near edge. Push it into the dough with your fingers or the heel of your hand, stretching it gently away from you. Give the dough a quarter turn and repeat. Do this 8 to 10 times, then rotate the dough into a ball and put it back in the bowl.
Cover with the tea towel again, leave for 10 minutes, and repeat the fold and stretch.
Cover again and leave for 10 minutes. While waiting, lightly oil another large bowl for the dough to rise in. Then fold and stretch the dough for a third time.
The dough should now be smooth and silky. Tip it out and shape it into a ball. Put it into the lightly-oiled bowl and cover with a tea towel or cling film.
Leave it to rise until it's at least doubled in size.* At room temperature, this should take a minimum of an hour but it's fine to leave it for 2–3 hours. The longer the better – it improves the flavour.
While waiting, heat a little olive oil in a frying pan over a medium heat, and add the bacon, cooking gently on both sides until just cooked. Set aside to cool and then chop into small squares.
Then prepare a couple of baking trays. Line them with baking parchment.
Tip out the risen dough onto a lightly floured surface and knock the air out by folding it in on itself a few times. It should feel smooth. Add the bacon pieces and grated cheese to it, and knead until well mixed. Divide the dough into 4 equal portions and roll each portion into a smooth oval, tapering the ends into points. Place 2 loaves on each tray, dust with flour and slash the tops along their lengths.
Cover with tea towels, or place each tray inside a clean plastic bag, and leave to prove for about an hour. You can tell when they're ready when they've doubled in size again and the dough springs back readily if you poke it gently with your finger.
Before the end of the hour, heat your oven to 220°C/425°F (gas mark 7).
Sprinkle with a little olive oil and bake for about 20 minutes or until nicely browned. Eat warm.
Many recipes recommend using warm water to make the yeast work more quickly. However, the flavour is improved if the process takes place more slowly. I use water at room temperature or even a little cooler.
* Doubled in size means doubled in volume. This means that if the dough is in the shape of a ball, the diameter increases by about 25%.
4 rashers streaky bacon/side bacon, rinded and rolled
1 egg yolk
3 tbsp double cream/whipping cream
juice of ½ lemon (1½ tablespoons)
chopped fresh parsley to garnish
*In Canada these little bags of bouquet garni aren’t available so I make my own. Traditionally, thyme, parsley stalks and bay leaf are wrapped in a small piece of muslin and tied to make a sack.
Seasonal green vegetables
Place the chicken, onion, carrots, mushrooms, bouquet garni and seasoning in a pan and cover with water. Bring slowly to the boil and then reduce the heat and simmer gently for 20 minutes.
Remove from the heat, strain off the stock and reserve.
Cut the chicken into cubes and set to one side.
Preheat the grill/broiler to high.
Over a medium heat melt the butter in a separate pan. Reduce the heat and add the flour, stirring to form a paste (a roux). Cook for 2 minutes and then remove from the heat. Measure off 600ml/20 fl oz/1 pint of the reserved stock and gradually stir it into the roux until smooth. Bring to the boil and continue to stir until the sauce thickens.
Reduce the heat, add the chicken and vegetables and heat through, about 2 minutes.
Meanwhile, grill/broil the bacon rolls until crisp on the outside.
In a small bowl, blend the egg yolk and cream together. Stir a little of the sauce into the mixture and blend until smooth. Add the mixture to the sauce and stir through, being careful not to let the sauce boil. Then stir in the lemon juice.
Serve the fricassee garnished with the bacon rolls and chopped parsley.
Cook the pasta in a pan of boiling salted water for 1 minute less than recommended on the packet of the brand you are using. Drain and set aside.
Meanwhile, pour the milk into a pan and add the bay leaves. Bring to the boil, then immediately remove from the heat.
In a separate pan, melt the butter. Add the flour and stir until there is a smooth paste (a roux).
Remove the bay leaves from the milk, then gradually add the milk to the roux, stirring constantly, until blended and smooth. Simmer to thicken to a double/whipping cream consistency. Remove from the heat.
Grill the bacon until just crispy. Let it cool a little then cut into small pieces.
Stir the pasta, bacon, cheddar and mustard into the sauce and add the pepper.
Spoon into the ovenproof dish. No need to smooth the top.
Toss the breadcrumbs and Parmesan together. Scatter over the top, completely covering the macaroni cheese mixture. Bake for 40 minutes until the top starts to brown.
1 organic chicken stock cube or 1tsp chicken bouillon
8 whole tinned tomatoes, plus juice
4 baked potatoes
A deep-sided sauté pan with lid
Preheat the oven to 170°C/325°F/gas mark 3.
Put the flour and some pepper into a plastic storage bag, add the chicken pieces and toss to coat. Reserve the remaining flour in the bag.
Heat the oil and butter in the sauté pan over a moderate heat and brown the chicken pieces, about 5 minutes. Set aside.
Cut the bacon rashers into thin strips and fry gently in the pan for 2 minutes, until the fat starts to run. Add the onion and continue to cook until the onion starts to brown, about 3 minutes.
Add the reserved flour into the pan and stir until the mixture has thickened. Mix the stock cube/1tsp bouillon into the water and add slowly to the pan, stirring constantly, until well combined. Bring to the boil and then reduce the heat and add the tomatoes.
Return the chicken to the pan, cover and cook in the oven for 1 hour 15 minutes.
Remove the chicken and keep warm. Place the sauté pan on the hob and over a medium to high heat reduce the sauce to thicken. Put the chicken back in the pan, scatter the croutons over and add some chopped parsley.
Serve with baked potatoes and seasonal vegetables.
For the croutons
These are so easy to make. Remove the crusts from 2 slices of bread (preferably a day old), cut into cubes and put in a bowl. Sprinkle over about 2 teaspoons of olive oil, some dried parsley and black pepper. Toss together.
Layer on a small baking tray covered with baking paper/parchment paper and put in the oven for 12–14 minutes.