Cesare Casella’s Cacciucco di Pollo (Chicken Stew)

Serves 6 to 8


9 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil
1/4 cup minced garlic
1 tablespoon finely chopped fresh sage
2 teaspoons finely chopped fresh rosemary
2 teaspoons finely chopped fresh thyme
1 teaspoon ground cumin seed
1 teaspoon crushed red pepper
1/4 teaspoon grated nutmeg
Salt and freshly ground black pepper
2 3-pound chickens, cut into 8 pieces each
2 cups chicken stock
1 cup dry white wine
3 tablespoons lemon juice
2 cups canned plum tomatoes, with their juice, pureed
1/2 pound shiitake, oyster, or cremini mushrooms, stems removed and thinly sliced (about 4 cups sliced)
4 cups thinly sliced red onions
3 1/2 cups 1/2-inch by 1-inch celery sticks
3 cups 1/2-inch by 1-inch fennel sticks
2 cups 1/2-inch by 1-inch carrot sticks
3 tablespoons finely chopped Italian parsley


Combine 6 tablespoons of the olive oil with 2 teaspoons of the garlic along with the sage, rosemary, thyme, cumin, red pepper, and nutmeg in a bowl large enough to hold all the chicken pieces. Season with salt and pepper and add the chicken pieces. Toss to evenly coat the chicken, cover, and refrigerate for at least 30 minutes or up to 2 days.

Preheat the oven to 375°F.

Remove the chicken from the refrigerator and discard the juices that have collected in the bowl.

Coat the interior of a large casserole with the remaining 3 tablespoons olive oil and arrange the seasoned chicken in the dish.

Transfer to the preheated oven and bake for 20 minutes. Add the remaining garlic along with the chicken stock, wine, and lemon juice. Bake for an additional 20 minutes or until the liquid has reduced by half.

Toss the tomatoes with the mushrooms, onions, celery, fennel, carrots, and parsley. Season with salt and pepper and arrange on top of the chicken. Cover the casserole with aluminum foil and bake, basting occasionally with the pan juices, for an additional hour.

Remove the casserole from the oven and transfer the chicken pieces to a large platter. Do not turn the chicken off. Let the chicken cool for about 10 minutes. Then, remove and discard the bones and the skin, leaving the meat in large pieces, Return the meat to the casserole. Stir the vegetables and chicken together. Taste and, if necessary, adjust the seasoning.

Return to the oven and continue to bake for an additional 20 minutes.

Remove from the oven and serve hot.