Every town has its own cacciatora and this is a fact. I have been around Italy far and wide and I have not eaten two the same. Above all in central Italy!
But I remember one of them and I still get the taste in my mouth if I close my eyes.
The cook’s name is Nonna Rosa, Ciociarian born, transplanted in the early 20th century to Zagarolo, a land of good white wines. Indeed they have just concluded the Grape Festival there which is one of the oldest in Italy (but do not tell Marino) and that involves all the inhabitants.
It is a very strange city: from above it looks like an arrow because it is created by a road lined with houses that then adjoin a cliff. Practically it develops only in length on a tufa ridge and to make a ring they had to make a hole by piercing the mountain.
Halfway along, then, a huge building blocks the path and the central road must create a space on the slopes of the hill. It is Palazzo Rospigliosi, once also the Colonna fortress which has frescoed in it the scenes of the famous battle of Lepanto. Today it houses the Toy Museum and an incredible number of events that take place every week.
It is not a town for those who suffer from vertigo!
Her cacciatora has left me a pungent and appetizing memory: both the chicken and rabbit cacciatora. Strong and austere like that landscape.
How to proceed with the recipe
The first thing is the choice of meat. Do not take meat from a supermarket that does not know anything and just breaks it apart in the pan. For a true cacciatora you need real meat, that of animals raised on the farmyard or in small farms.
As usual I go to the butcher of the Mercato di Via Trionfale. But you should look for the markets near your home and let the experts advise you.
Meanwhile, start with the mortar where you have to grind a couple of anchovies with sage and rosemary. It is the heart of the recipe and to make the beaten ingredients flavourful, dissolve in a couple of tablespoons of vinegar and a little white wine.
Brown the chicken in an iron skillet with garlic and chilli. When it is almost cooked, the chicken should be blended over high heat with the contents of the mortar.
The cacciatora should be served very hot!
And do not worry about being surprised to soak up the sauce with bread. Only those without a brain are deprived of this immense joy.
The wine to accompany the cacciatora? A trebbiano paints the scene just right.