Hunter's Chicken (Piletina na Lovački)

Updated: Oct 20, 2020

Discover this delicious and easy to make one-pot chicken stew with a kick!

Prep time: 10 minutes

Inactive time: 1 to 12 hours

Cooking time: about 1 hour

Yields 4 to 6 servings

Gluten/Soy free

We all know and love this dish. It is quite popular in Europe and beyond. But... did you know there are multiple versions of "Hunter's Chicken" out there? Chicken Chasseur in France, Pollo alla Cacciatora in Italy, Piletina na Lovački in Croatia... the list goes on and on. This particular recipe is the Croatian version of the recipe.

"Piletina na Lovački" roughly translate to "Hunter's Wild Chicken" and it is a delicious chicken stew made with mushrooms, a thick and spicy tomato sauce, and fresh herbs and spices. It is so good and easy to make, guys...and it is soy free, and gluten free!

I came upon this dish back in 2009 while visiting the beautiful country of Croatia ...and I loved it from the get go! I tried to replicate it but it wasn't the same. I finally came across a traditional Croatian recipe that was just perfect. So after rekindling my love of Croatian and Balkan cuisine, I made some adjustments to elevate the flavor profile of the dish without compromising the authenticity of it.

As stated, this particular recipe is Croatian although you can find this dish all across the Balkans. I made sure I asked my dear friend Korab, who is from Kosovo, to confirm that it is a very popular dish in the region.

What is "Hunter's Chicken"?

Hunter's chicken (chicken chasseur; French: poulet chasseur, poulet à la chasseur and poulet sauté chasseur) is a chicken dish that is a part of French cuisine. The primary ingredients in hunter's chicken are sautéed chicken and a reduced chasseur sauce prepared using tomatoes, mushrooms, onions, white wine, brandy and tarragon.

Several other dishes from around the world share these names; yet each version is very different, with few to no similarities besides the use of chicken.

What's the difference between Hunter's Chicken, Chicken Chasseur, and Piletina na Lovački?

There are minimal subtle differences between them. However, the dish is basically the same with minor modifications ( flour, spices, ingredients, type of alcohol used, herbs, and presentation)

French Poulet Chasseur is prepared using sautéed chicken that is cooked crisp and a chasseur sauce consisting of tomatoes, mushrooms, onions, white wine, brandy and tarragon. Prior to sautéeing, the chicken can be dredged in flour. Tomato ingredients can include diced tomatoes, canned crushed tomatoes and canned tomato paste.

Additional ingredients in hunter's chicken can include shallots, olive oil, chicken stock and vermouth, and in addition to tarragon, additional spices and seasonings can include marjoram, thyme, bay leaf, salt and pepper. The sauce for hunter's chicken is typically prepared and thickened by the process of reduction. The dish can be garnished with ingredients such as parsley and croutons. Hunter's chicken can become more flavorful after sitting and then being reheated, which allows the flavors of the ingredients to further intermingle.

The British version of 'hunter's chicken' usually consist of chicken fillet wrapped in bacon, in a barbecue (or other tomato-based) sauce, often served with cheese on top, such as cheddar.

What is the flavor profile?

Savory, spicy, herbaceous, and earthy.

What ingredients will I need to make this dish?

A whole chicken, onions, garlic, unsalted butter, smoke paprika, dried chilies, bay leaves, mushrooms, thyme, tomatoes, white wine, tomato paste, Joe's Homemade Chicken Broth, marjoram, crushed pepper flakes, fresh parsley, salt & pepper, and olive oil.

What kind of white wine do I need for this dish?

Any dry white wine will do (Chardonnay, Sauvignon Blanc, Chablis, Pinot Grigio, Riesling, or Moselle)

What kind of chili peppers do I need?

You can use any red chili pepper you like. I used Mexican "Chile de Arbol" which pack quite the punch.

How do I treat the red chillies?

I recommend you either use the dehydrated chilies (pictured below) to avoid the pods from breaking and leaking all the seeds into the stew. If using fresh, just slice them in have and remove the seeds before adding it to the dish.

What else will I need to make this?

A large cast iron pot or large pot, measuring cups and spoons, a cutting board, a knife, a wooden spoon, a large bowl.

Can I make substitutions?


  • You can use canned crushed tomatoes instead of fresh tomatoes.

  • You can use chicken breasts on the bone or thighs on the bone instead of a whole chicken.

  • You can use marsala wine, brandy, or vermouth instead of white wine.

  • You can use Swanson Gluten Free Chicken broth, any store gluten free chicken broth, or your own, instead of Joe's Homemade Chicken Broth.

What do I serve this with?

Steamed vegetables, potatoes, or dumplings. Be creative... the sky is the limit.



Step 1: Marinate the Chicken

  1. Break the chicken down into pieces. Do not remove the skin. Wash with cold water and pat dry with a paper towel.

  2. Place the chicken in a large bowl. Add 1 tablespoon of salt, 1 teaspoon of black pepper, 3 sprigs of fresh thyme, 1 teaspoon of smoked paprika, 5 cloves of garlic (minced), and 4 tablespoons of olive oil. Rub mixture all over the chicken. Cover.

  3. Place in the fridge and allow it to rest anywhere from 1 to 12 hours.

Step 2: Make the Stew

  1. In a large cast iron pot over medium heat, add 5 tablespoons of olive oil and 3 tablespoons of butter. Once the oil is heated, gently sear the chicken in batches, skin side down first then turn. Sear until the chicken develops a nice golden color. Set chicken aside.

  2. Add the onions and mushrooms to the pot and cook for 5 minutes. Add the garlic and cook until fragrant.

  3. Add the wine, tomato paste, crushed tomatoes, bay leaves, chili peppers, 5 sprigs of thyme, marjoram, 2 large sage leaves, 1 teaspoon of paprika, and the crushed pepper flakes. Stir and allow it to cook for 2 minutes before adding the chicken broth. Bring to a boil and immediately reduce the heat to a simmer. Taste for Salt and pepper and adjust to your liking.

  4. Return the chicken onto the pot. Make sure the sauce covers the chicken.

  5. Cover pot with a lid and let it simmer for about 35 minutes.

  6. Once the time has elapsed, remove the lid and let cook uncovered for another 25 minutes.

  7. Serve and garnish with freshly chopped parsley.


Printable Recipe (PDF) below:

Hunter's Chicken
Download PDF • 15.67MB

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