Chicken alla Cacciatora

Makes 4 servings
Time: 50 minutes

"Alla cacciatora" means "hunter's style," and Anna's delicious rabbit dish reminded me of this one, which is similarly Tuscan in spirit. It's not your mother's chicken alla cacciatora, unless your mother's a traditional Italian cook, but a simple sauté of chicken and vegetables that's quick to make and really flavorful. And mastering it will allow you to discover variations of your own.

2 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil
1 (3- to 4-pound) chicken, cut into 8 pieces, or 4 pounds chicken legs and thighs
Salt and black pepper
1 large onion, sliced
2 medium carrots, peeled and thinly sliced
4 ounces shiitake or white button mushrooms, stems removed and discarded (or reserved for stock), sliced
1 tablespoon minced garlic
1 tablespoon juniper berries, lightly crushed
2 bay leaves
1 cup chicken stock, preferably homemade
1 cup chopped tomatoes
Chopped fresh parsley leaves, for garnish

1. Put the oil in a deep skillet or casserole, preferably non-stick, that can later be covered. Turn the heat to medium-high and wait a minute or so, until the oil is hot. Add the chicken, skin sides down. Season it with salt and pepper and brown it well, rotating and turning the pieces as necessary; the process will take 10 to 15 minutes. Remove the chicken to a plate, pour off any excess fat, and turn the heat down to medium.

2. Add the onion, carrots, mushrooms, garlic, juniper berries, and bay leaves and cook, stirring occasionally, until the onion softens, about 10 minutes. Add the stock, then the tomatoes and chicken, along with any accumulated juices. Stir, then partially cover the pan; reduce the heat to low and cook about 20 minutes, or until the chicken is cooked through. Garnish with parsley and serve.