Reader Fredericka Jones shared this recipe for Chicken Cacciatore with us several years ago. It arrived via Ellis Island with her father, Louis Janus Vici; he cut a dashing figure in World War I, serving in the Air Corps as a navigator, gunner, and bombardier. He was a great cook, too, if this recipe is any evidence.
1 3-4 pound chicken, cut into 8 parts
2-1/2 teaspoons kosher or sea salt, divided
1/2 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
3 tablespoons salted butter
1 tablespoon olive oil
1 medium-size onion, finely chopped
1/2 pound fresh button mushrooms, sliced
2 tablespoons all-purpose flour
1/2 cup dry white wine, such as Pinot Grigio
2 tablespoons cognac
1 cup chicken broth
3 cups canned diced tomatoes, drained
1-2 garlic cloves, minced
2 tablespoons chopped fresh parsley
2 tablespoons chopped fresh basil
1/2 teaspoon dried oregano
Rinse chicken; pat dry and season all over with 2 teaspoons salt and the pepper. In a 4- to 5-quart oven-safe pot over medium-high heat, melt butter with oil. Add chicken and brown on all sides, working in batches to avoid overcrowding. Remove and set aside.
Preheat oven to 350°. Add onion, mushrooms, and remaining salt to pot. Cook, stirring often, until onion is translucent, about 6 minutes. Add flour and stir. Cook, stirring continuously, until glossy. Remove from heat; add wine, cognac, broth, tomatoes, and garlic. Return to heat and simmer 10 minutes. Return chicken to pot.
Cover and bake until chicken is cooked through, 45 to 55 minutes. Remove chicken and keep warm on a serving plate. Bring sauce to a boil in the pot on stovetop; cook until volume is reduced to about 3 cups. Add herbs. Serve with crusty bread or over linguine or polenta.