Hunter’s Chicken / Chicken Cacciatore with Portobellos and Sage

Anyone who knows me, knows I loved living up in Portland. One of my favorite casual restaurants there was Papa Haydn’s on the eastside. Almost every time I ate there, I ordered the Hunter’s Chicken. I was craving that so much recently, that I seriously started looking for a recipe — ANY recipe — for something that resembled it. My epiphany in this story is that I had no idea that Hunter’s Chicken was actually Chicken Cacciatore. We never ate that as kids — yeah, yeah, Mom. I know. We were picky eaters. I immediately signed into Cooks Illustrated and found this wonderful recipe with portobello mushers and sage — with such an incredibly delicious sauce that I stopped eating the chicken and ate just the pasta with the sauce. The directions below come from Cook’s IIlustrated.

WHY THIS RECIPE WORKS:
Using chicken thighs and removing the skin after a quick rendering solved the problems of soggy skin and greasy sauce in our chicken cacciatore recipe.

If your Dutch oven is large enough to hold all the chicken pieces in a single layer without crowding, brown all the pieces at once instead of in batches. The Parmesan cheese rind is optional, but we highly recommend it for the robust, savory flavor it adds to the dish. An equal amount of minced fresh rosemary can be substituted for the sage.

INGREDIENTS
8 bone in chicken thighs (about 3 pounds), trimmed of excess fat
1 teaspoon olive oil
1 medium onion , chopped
6 ounces portobello mushroom caps (about 3 medium), wiped clean and cut into 3/4-inch cubes
4 medium cloves garlic , minced
1 1/2 tablespoons unbleached all-purpose flour
1 1/2 cups dry red wine
1/2 cup chicken stock or low-sodium canned chicken broth
1 can (14 1/2 ounces) diced tomatoes , drained
2 teaspoons minced fresh thyme leaves
1 piece Parmesan cheese rind (2 inches, about 1 ounce), optional
2 teaspoons minced fresh sage leaves

INSTRUCTIONS
1. Season chicken with salt and pepper. Heat oil in Dutch oven over medium-high heat until shimmering but not smoking, about 2 minutes. Add four chicken thighs, skin-side down, and cook, not moving them until skin is crisp and well browned, about 5 minutes; using tongs, flip chicken and brown on second side, about 5 minutes longer. Transfer browned chicken to large plate; brown remaining chicken thighs, transfer to plate, and set aside.

2. Drain off all but 1 tablespoon fat from pot. Add onion, mushrooms, and 1/2 teaspoon salt; sauté over medium-high heat, stirring occasionally, until moisture evaporates and vegetables begin to brown, 6 to 8 minutes. Meanwhile, remove and discard skin from browned chicken thighs. Add garlic to pot and sauté until fragrant, about 30 seconds. Stir in flour and cook, stirring constantly, about 1 minute. Add wine, scraping pot bottom with wooden spoon to loosen brown bits. Stir in stock, tomatoes, thyme, cheese rind (if using), 1/2 teaspoon salt (omit salt if using cheese rind), and pepper to taste. Submerge chicken pieces in liquid and bring to boil; cover, reduce heat to low, and simmer until chicken is tender and cooked through, about 45 minutes, turning chicken pieces with tongs halfway through cooking. Discard cheese rind, stir in sage, adjust seasonings with salt and pepper, and serve.

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