A Heritage Chicken Cacciatore Recipe from Union Square Cafe’s Carmen Quagliata!

Union Square Cafe’s Executive Chef and Partner, Carmen Quagliata, is passionate about his native Italian cuisine. Carmen’s culinary style was formed by the Sicilian matriarchs of his family, who made sausage and bread by hand and grew pole beans from seeds carried across the Atlantic by their Italian kin. January 2005, he was hired as Chef de Cuisine at Union Square Cafe. Carmen was promoted to Executive Chef in September 2007. Within a year the restaurant received four stars from Time Out New York, and reclaimed the title of New York City’s Most Popular Restaurant from the Zagat Survey – an honor Union Square Cafe has received an unprecedented nine times.

Carmen’s cooking continues to show his respect for all that has come before at USC, as well as his creativity, taste and appreciation for the seasons, as he shapes the restaurant’s future.

Recently Carmen has begun incorporating Heritage Chickens onto his menu. He started with a simple Chicken Cacciatore served with Potato Gnocchi. We asked him to if he would share his recipe and he was kind enough to oblige.


Great with potato gnocchi, rigatoni or with a baked hard polenta

Serves: For Pasta Serves 6-8

Ingredients – To Prepare the Chicken and Make the Stock:

  • 1 Rhode Island White Leghorn chicken
  • 1 large onion, 1 small carrot, 1 stalk of celery – large dice
  • 10 peppercorns
  • 4 juniper berries
  • 1 bay leaf
  • 2 thyme branches
  • 5 parsley stems
  • 1 tablespoon salt
  • 1 Gallon water


  1. Gently simmer chicken until drumstick bones slide out of the thigh joint easily when twisted, approximately 60-90 minutes. Cool chicken in broth until room temperature. Remove chicken from broth and pick the meat VERY CAREFULLY. Meat should be completely clean and free of cartilage, tendons, bones, skin, veins, and thigh arteries. Save all undesirable material to make a stock. Strain the broth that you removed the chicken from and reserve aromatics and vegetables.
  2.  Roast all the bones, junk, aromatics, and vegetables to a golden brown. Cover the roasted bones with the original poaching liquid and simmer gently for 2 hours. Strain and set aside or refrigerate to finish the next day. Cut chicken into approximately half inch chunks and refrigerate.

Ingredients – To Make the Ragu

  • 4 tablespoons Extra Virgin Olive Oil
  • .5 lb. wild mushrooms – sliced
  • 1 bay leaf
  • 1 large-ish onion – small dice
  • 3 cloves garlic-chopped
  • 8-10 sage leaves-chopped
  • Pinch of chili flake
  • Pinch of smoked paprika
  • Splash (2 tablespoons) of red wine
  • ¼ – 1/3 cups of finely chopped roasted red pepper (1 large pepper, roasted and peeled then
  • Roasted chicken stock (approximately 2 ½ – 3 qts should be yielded from the process)
  • 1 qt plum tomatoes- milled


  1. Heat olive oil in wide-bottom pot until wavy hot. Add all wild mushrooms, spread evenly along the bottom of the pot. Season with salt and pepper. Do not stir. Let it cook over high heat until mushrooms start to brown, approximately 3-5 minutes. Then stir occasionally continuing to cook the mushrooms for another 7 minutes over high heat. Spread the mushrooms to the side creating a pool of oil in the middle of the pot.
  2. Add the onions and bay leaves, flatten into the oil, and leave to cook for a couple of minutes. Then stir the onions in with the mushrooms. Lower the heat to medium and cook until the onions are translucent and tender, approximately 10 minutes. Spread the ingredients again creating a pool of oil in the center of the pot and add the garlic. Stir garlic into the puddle of oil and leave for 1 minute to cook. Don’t let it go past golden brown in color. Add sage, chili flakes, and smoked paprika and stir. Splash in the wine. Then add the stock, tomatoes, roasted peppers and simmer, stirring occasionally to avoid sticking and scorching on the bottom and sides of the pot. Add a healthy pinch of salt. Simmer gently for 45 minutes. After this it won’t be brothy but it won’t be thick and pulpy either.
  3. When the sauce is ready add all of the picked chicken. Stir and bring the sauce back to one boil. Do not leave the stove to do other work. Stay, stir, final season, boil once, Ba- Boom!


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