Good old chicken stew – or piletina na lovački.
This is one of the dishes that I can remember eating as far back as my early childhood – bubbling away in my fathers kotlič, suspended over flames on three legs like a witches cauldron – or on the stovetop in Mum’s trusty pot.
We also called it paprikaš – something that originates in Hungary, but seems to be just as common in Croatia.
I’m guessing the name “hunters chicken” has something to do with this being something a bunch of Croatian blokes would knock together after playing with their shotguns out in the wilderness – downing a few wild animals to take back home to feed the family.
My family has some old movies that were filmed on reels back in the 1970’s. I haven’t looked at them for a while, but I do remember seeing some footage of my dad and his mates out in the bush doing exactly that – hunting wild boar, pheasants, ducks – just about anything that moved.
This wasn’t for cheap thrills – it was all butchered, divided amongst themselves and brought home to feed families. Buying meat at the butcher wasn’t cheap, hence the DIY.
When they went out hunting and camping for several days, they’d often make a stew of some sort for dinner over an open fire. Either with something they’d just hunted or brought with them from home.
What I’ve got for you here is my rendition of a hearty hunters chicken. It’s an ideal winter dish that calls for lots of bread to sop up the rich juices, or you could even shred the meat and use it all as a pasta sauce.
I’ve made some rustic looking dumplings to carry and absorb the beautiful flavours in the stew. These were one of my faves when I was very young, and you know what? They’re still one of my faves.
*Duck Egg Blue French Oven supplied by Chasseur and Pyrocast Round Gratin supplied by Pyrolux.