This is a classic dish that you'll find all over Italy, but is especially embedded in the cuisine of Umbria and Tuscany. Every cook has her own version: some add mushrooms, others don't; some like a bit of carrot, others add bell pepper. In short, it's a flexible but simple main dish you can prepare and please about everyone. It can also be made using rabbit or lamb.

You'll need bone-in chicken pieces; onion; salt and pepper; thyme, tomato sauce and red wine. Other ingredients you might want to add include mushrooms, garlic, and /or bell pepper. Our version, however, is the classic one recorded by Pellegrino Artusi in his cookbook, Science in the Kitchen and the Art of Eating Well, published 100 years ago. (The English recipe comes from Kyle Phillips, who translated Artusi's book, published by Random House in 1996.)

Artusi's Chicken alla Cacciatore

Chop and onion and fry it in oil or lard. Once it's done, set it aside. Chop a chicken, fry it in the grease left in the pan, and once it has browned return the onion. Season the mixture with salt and pepper and sprinkle it with a half cup of San Giovese or other good quality red wine, a half cup of tomato sauce, and simmer for five minutes before serving it.

(If you want to jazz it up, after browning the chicken, remove it, add a bit more oil and saute the mushrooms or peppers; add the chicken back to the pan and continue as directed.)

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