Italian hunters must do a lot of cooking!” exclaimed one of my students when I was introducing yet another dish called alla cacciatora, hunter’s style. Although some hunters may like to cook and there are certainly cooks who also hunt, the term refers not to them, but to a style of cooking that applies to meats or pasta sauces employing ingredients that would be used in preparing game. Aromatic flavorings such as sage, bay leaves, and juniper are typical components of the cacciatora style, as are wine or vinegar, tomatoes, and garlic.
The presence of bay leaves and juniper berries and, through its leaves, the cool scent of celery qualify this richly flavored sauce as a member of the hunter’s family of dishes. Game itself, hoofed game in particular, has never been a favorite food of mine and in fact I never cook it, but I love the flavor of the style. It has influenced quite a bit of my cooking, and thus I enjoy some of the pleasures of the hunt without contributing to the premature end of any wild creature.
Good homemade noodles will be quite delicious with this sauce, particularly the broad cut known as pappardelle. Boxed dry pasta can be equally satisfying if you choose a short tubular shape such as penne or maccheroncini.
© 1997 Marcella Hazan estate. All rights reserved.