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Southern Italian Family Cooking By Carmela Sereno Hayes




Enter out new competition and win the amazing recipe book Southern Italian Family Cooking by Carmela Sereno Hayes

Pollo alla Cacciatora

Pollo alla Cacciatora

A few months ago I was very lucky to finally meet face to face a lady with whom I have been friend on Twitter and Facebook for a while: Carmela Sereno Hayes of Carmela’s Kitchen.
Carmela owns her own cookery school in the UK and is also a cookbook writer, as well as a food blogger and consultant for the radio and media shows.
She is a fiery redhead, born in Britain from Italian parents, with deep roots in Southern Italy: I believe she feels more Italian than I probably do 😉

When we finally met in Venice last year during a Cicchetti Food Tour, we immediately hit it off: we have so many things in common and we feels the same way about so many things, that I cannot believe our paths did not cross earlier! We both believe in traditional simple home recipes, we both believe people need to go back to the origins of family cooking, to teach young children not to be afraid to mess in the kitchen (and sometime mess up), to be ready to fail and succeed, to learn to taste simple unaltered food.

Carmela is an amazing full of energy person (with four young children I have no idea where she gets the time to do all the cooking too!), passionate about food and Italian family traditions and I was so happy when her dream finally came true and her collection of Italian home cooking recipes were published late last year.

So, it was a real honour for me when she asked me to read her book and try out some of her recipes.

I am a cake girl, so my first thought was to go and try one of her desserts recipes, but then last Sunday, it was a cold day and I was wondering what I could prepare which would be quick and simple and did not require too much effort and I came across her recipe for Pollo Alla Cacciatora – Hunter’s style Chicken.

Pollo alla Cacciatora (Chicken hunter’s style) is a dish which must be prepared on a fast and lively heat. Some people prefer this chicken recipes dry and there are those who want it a little more like a gravy sauce, so it can be eaten with polenta or boiled rice. In the old days it used to be prepared inside copper pans hanging from the chain on the fireplace, in the same way polenta was prepared.

Onions for pollo alla Cacciatora

Onions for pollo alla Cacciatora

Pollo alla Cacciatora is an old peasant dish that was cooked during the warmer months, when the young chickens were ready to eat. In July, August, September, when the farmers returned to the fields to carry out the end of the season work in the countryside, in the afternoon they used to have a snack with this chicken recipe. It wasn’t a winter dish, because in winter the chickens were needed for the eggs. But nowadays we do not have that problem, so we can prepare it whenever we fancy!

Pollo alla Cacciatora is a rustic dish of the purest countryside tradition and as with all classic recipes there is no real “official” version, because every family has brought its own personal change, however slight, and in theme with the origins of the dish.

The recipe for Pollo alla Cacciatora is said to have originated in the countryside of Romagna (some people say Tuscany – we probably will never know!) and it addresses the need for a fast lunch with what you had available in the garden and the courtyard.

The definition of “Cacciatora” i.e. “Of the Hunter” probably comes from the use of garlic and rosemary as a flavouring which were used by hunters in their hunting lodges to cook the prey for immediate consumption.

Polenta, perfect with pollo alla cacciatora

Polenta, perfect with pollo alla cacciatora

As a peasant dish, its taste is frank and honest, intense and genuine, perfect for those who do not like the frills of an elaborate cuisine and want substance and flavour. You will notice that the recipe is simple to perform, as well as simple are the necessary ingredients.

I am enclosing Carmela’s original recipe to which, I am afraid (Carmela, don’t hate me for this), I made some modification, mainly because I could not be bothered to go out and buy the missing ingredients, so I made do with what was on hand. In true farmer style: whatever my garden, courtyard and pantry had on offer!

Pollo Alla Cacciatora – Hunter’s Style Chicken

(from Souther Italian Family Cooking by Carmela Sereno Hayes)

Preparation: 15 minutes
Cooking Time: 1 hour 15 minutes
Serves: 6

3 tbsp extra virgin olive oil
2 cloves garlic, peeled and crushed
2 shallots, sliced – I used 1 x white onion
6 chicken breasts – I used 6 chicken under-thighs with bone
1 large glass white wineI used some good Prosecco, because that’s the bottle that was standing in front of my glass 😉
2 x 680g jars of passataI only used one, cause I only had one!
1 tsp capers, chopped
100 gr pitted green olives, halved
2 red peppers, sliced – sorry, I did not add them, I did not have any
salt and pepper to season
1 bay leaf
handful of basil chopped

Fresh Basil

Fresh Basil

1 tsp fresh oregano – I used dried one


1. Preheat the oven to 180c.
2. Take a large shallow dish and place it on the hob. Lightly fry the shallots and garlic in a little olive oil for 4-5 minutes (until nice and soft and golden, without burning it).
3. Take the chicken breasts and sear on each side with the shallots and garlic – this operation is very important, because it seals the juice of the chicken in, avoiding the chicken to become dry whilst cooking.
4. Pour in the white wine and cook for 3 minutes, until it evaporates.
5. Add the passata, the capers, olives, sliced peppers and the seasoning.

Cooking Pollo alla Cacciatora

Cooking Pollo alla Cacciatora

6. Clamp on the lid and place into the pre-heated oven for 1 hour and 15 minutes. I actually skipped this, because my pan was not oven-proof. So I simply carried on cooking on a lively heat for 45 minutes, turning over the chicken every 15 minutes.

I served my chicken simply with some boiled Basmati rice, but you can serve it with hot polenta, or creamy mashed potatoes, or just with a salad.

My family loved it and it is a fool proof recipe. All of Carmela’s recipes are good but most of all, simple to replicate – just like all Italian family cooking! In Carmela’s book you will find delicious appetizers, simple first course and mouthwatering desserts.

Now, if you liked this recipe and would like to try some more, why don’t you enter our competition and take your chance to win a copy of Carmela’s new book, Southern Italian Family Cooking!

Simply follow the steps below and you could be cooking some Pollo Alla Cacciatora too!


And now for our competition: how can you win a beautiful copy of Southern Italian Family Cooking by Carmela Sereno Hayes?

Southern Italian Family Cooking By Carmela Sereno Hayes

Southern Italian Family Cooking By Carmela Sereno Hayes

Simple: read below!

Terms and conditions:

First just follow these easy steps!

1- Click here and like Carmela’s Kitchen Facebook Page (if you do not already do so)

2- Click here and like Cook In Venice Facebook Page (if you do not already do so)

3- Click here and follow us on Twitter (if you do not already do so)

4- Click here and follow Carmela’s Kitchen on Twitter (if you do not already do so)

5- re-tweet this post by adding the hash-tag #southernitalianfamilycooking (please make sure to add this tag!)

Once you have executed the previous steps, just place a comment below to let us know you are entering the competition, that you have followed all of the above steps and giving your name and email address. The winner will be contacted via the email name displayed on our website.

The competition is open to everyone, worldwide. Prizes can only be sent to a valid address unless otherwise stated, all postage and packaging included.

Entry to the competition is restricted to one entry per person please. Multiple entries will be disqualified. Automated entries, bulk entries or third party entries will be disqualified!

The winner will be chosen at random from all valid entries, among all the people who have correctly completed all the indicated steps and left a comment (we will use this site http://www.randomresult.com/).

The Judges decision is final and no correspondence will be entered in to.

The competition. is open from today Tuesday 13th January 2015 until Tuesday 20th January 2015 , 9am Italian time.

www.cookinvenice.com is compliant with the data protection act. Our policy is such that wPolenta, perfect with pollo alla cacciatorae will not pass on your details to any third party without your prior consent.



And I am glad to announce the competition is now closed and our winner is……. Ted Eschuk with comment number 5!!!  Congratulation: happy cooking!



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  1. Massimo January 13, 2015 at 1:45 pm #

    Dear Carmela, I am entering the competition, and I confirm I have followed all of the above steps


    • cook cookinvenice January 13, 2015 at 2:27 pm #

      Your commnet is allocated Number 1

  2. Renee Andreasen January 13, 2015 at 4:42 pm #

    Where do I sign up for the competition for the cookbook?

    • cook cookinvenice January 13, 2015 at 5:09 pm #

      you do not have to sign up, you have to follow the steps indicated in the post/article! regards

  3. Renee Andreasen January 13, 2015 at 4:54 pm #

    Hello Camela !
    I’ve enteted all the steps for this great cookbook ! Love your website !! Have to get started cooking !

  4. Renee Andreasen January 13, 2015 at 5:00 pm #

    Hello Camela !
    I’ve enteted all the steps for this great cookbook ! Love your website !! Have to get started cooking now !

    • cook cookinvenice January 13, 2015 at 5:04 pm #

      HI, thanks for entering the competition. Your comment is number 2 – thanks from Monica and Arianna of Cookinvenice.com

    • cook cookinvenice January 13, 2015 at 5:08 pm #

      Please notice that for your entry to be valid, you will need to follow cookinvenice on twitter and on our Fb page and to retweet the post – otherwise your comment will not be accepted, thanks

  5. Victoria De Maio January 13, 2015 at 5:31 pm #

    Done, done and entered …and very hungry now! If I win, maybe I’ll finally really cook! LOL

    • cook cookinvenice January 13, 2015 at 6:03 pm #

      Good luck, darling, yours is comment number 3

  6. Felicia Funderburk January 16, 2015 at 10:04 am #

    I’m delighted to enter your competition!
    I’ve followed all of the steps 🙂 Happy
    to have seen it on @monicacesarato!
    I love love love Simple and Traditional!
    Great website…thanks for sharing.

    • cook cookinvenice January 16, 2015 at 12:04 pm #

      Thank you so much and good luck, your comment is number 4

  7. Ted Eschuk January 19, 2015 at 7:42 pm #

    I so enjoy all the information, posts, links, the list goes on. It is wonderful to enter contests, but more spectacular at the job you all go to keep us informed. Good luck to all that entered for this wonderful gift.

    • cook cookinvenice January 20, 2015 at 8:18 am #

      Great and thanks for entering – good luck, comment number 5

  8. Ted Eschuk January 19, 2015 at 7:44 pm #

    Sorry. I am also confirming following all the steps. heheheheh.

  9. Giselle Stafford January 19, 2015 at 8:31 pm #

    Thanks Monica & Carmela!
    Followed all the steps!
    Bought the chicken today to make the dish featured here!
    Cheers, Giselle 😀

    • cook cookinvenice January 20, 2015 at 8:18 am #

      Let us know how it turns out! Buona fortuna, comment number 6

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