Pollo Alla Cacciatora, dog-eared cookbooks and oven baptisms

Everyone has those abused pages in their cookbooks, the ones that are really dog-eared, spattered, marked, sketched on. One of my worst ones is the page for Pollo Alla Cacciatora, Hunter’s Chicken Stew, from Jamie Oliver’s Italy book. This is one of the few recipes that I follow consistently and don’t meddle with as I am often tempted to do. It's available here on his website and I think it's the best recipe I've come across for it.



I love it so much I decided to brake in my new oven with this recipe. Why I put so much thought into what I should cook first in it–like some sort of good luck ritual–I don’t know, some sort of foodie neurosis or something. I am a superstitious weirdo though, always touching wood and making the sign to ward off the evil eye behind my back. That’s what a Catholic upbringing does to you I say.

Anyway, this dish is perfect if you have to cook en mass. The tomatoes are so tasty and perfect with potatoes (I really like those knobbly, odd-looking Anya ones which I roast skin on with olive oil and sea salt) or mopped with a heap of good bread.



Great quality chicken (thighs, drumsticks and legs to keep the cost down and the taste up) is the key to this dish as are the anchovy fillets. I left them out once and what a mistaka-to-makea. Anchovies do something quite magical to tomatoes when they disintegrate into them.