Make us your home page

Signature Dish: Chicken Cacciatore handed down through the generations

WHO: Julie Moschera/Lyons 48, of St. Petersburg, who owned and operated an air conditioning and heating company for 20 years.

WHAT: Chicken Cacciatore

ABOUT THE RECIPE: Her roots stretch back to the coastal city of Trapani in Sicily, a place of mountains and cobblestone streets, where her grandmother grew up. In the early 1900s, arranged marriages were still common. Her grandmother was a young teenager when she was forced to marry a man who was cruel to her, Moschera/Lyons said. So she packed her things and fled by ship to New York.

"She met my grandfather on the boat," Moschera/Lyons added.

Once they landed, she became a seamstress, and he bought a fish market. "He used to bring her beautiful cuts of fish and they fell in love," she said.

Although they created a new life for themselves, they still preserved the traditional Italian recipes and passed them down to their children. One of Moschera/Lyons' favorites is Chicken Cacciatore — cooked in mushrooms, olives and onions, it cooks all day until the meat falls off the bone. As a little girl, she couldn't wait for a taste. (The recipe is different from the traditional cacciatore, which is usually made from cut-up chicken rather than a whole chicken.)

"Oh, that delicious smell! Me and my cousins would open the oven and dip the Italian bread into the sauce," she said, recalling how she would be shooed away until dinner.

She learned to cook "by smell and taste," by watching her mother — a quiet woman she describes as the "most loving" human being — and her Aunt Rose. Every Sunday, sauce simmered on the stove. And every night of the week, they gathered around the table.

Today, she continues the tradition, cooking for her three sons five nights a week. It's all worth it when they open the door and say, "Oh, Mom, you made sauce!"

She teases them, "If I teach you how to make a pot of sauce, I'll never see you again!"

ON THE SIDE: A slice of Italian bread with garlic butter. You can also serve a "nice, crisp salad" of cucumber and red onion, drizzled with olive oil, and balsamic vinegar on the side.

TIPS: "Make sure you have a big, fat plump juicy chicken," Moschera/Lyons advised. "I cover it for most of the day, and then the last hour, I'll take the foil off. This way the bird browns."

Emily Young, Special to the Times

Signature Dish is published periodically in Taste. If you have a recipe that you would like featured or would like to nominate other home cooks and their dishes, please email the information to with a name and daytime phone number. Include SIGNATURE DISH in the subject line. Nominations can be mailed to Taste, Tampa Bay Times, 490 First Ave. S, St. Petersburg, FL 33701.


Chicken Cacciatore

This is a different take on traditional Italian "hunter's stew," which normally uses chicken parts. This recipe calls for a whole chicken roasted under foil for more than 3 hours.

1 large roaster chicken, about 4 pounds

1 large onion, diced

1 green pepper, diced

1 package sliced button mushrooms

⅓ cup apple cider vinegar

1 (35-ounce) can crushed tomatoes

⅓ cup chicken broth

2 tablespoons capers

1 cup Spanish olives

¼ teaspoon each salt and pepper

Place chicken in large baking pan with the cut-up onion, green pepper and mushrooms. Blend together vinegar, crushed tomatoes and chicken broth and add to the baking pan along with capers and Spanish olives. Season with salt and pepper.

Cover with aluminum foil and roast in a 350-degree oven for 2 ½ hours. (To roast a chicken of this size, the time would be more like 1 hour and 20 minutes but the additional liquid allows for the extra time.)

Lower oven to 250 degrees and cook for another hour, removing foil so the bird gets brown. (Watch carefully; you may want to remove before the hour is up.)

Serves 6 to 8.

Source: Julie Moschera/Lyons

Signature Dish: Chicken Cacciatore handed down through the generations 10/21/13 [Last modified: Friday, October 25, 2013 1:03pm]
Photo reprints | Article reprints

© 2017 Tampa Bay Times


Join the discussion: Click to view comments, add yours

  1. Glen Campbell's wife Kim discusses challenges, guilt caregivers of Alzheimer's patients, others face

    Life Times

    If there's one thing Kim Campbell would change about caregiving for Alzheimer's patients, it's the attitude so many of us have toward transferring a loved one from home to a long-term care facility. According to Campbell, it's often the most kind, loving decision you can make. It's not a sign of failure, but one of …

    Kim Campbell, wife of country music legend Glen Campbell, is acknowledged by those attending the free event where she shared the story of her personal journey with Alzheimer???‚??„?s disease and the struggles she faced caring for her husband on Friday (5/26/17) at the Suncoast Hospice's Empath Health Service Center in Clearwater. Empath Choices for Care, a member of Empath Health, and Arden Courts Memory Care hosted the free event where Kim shared her story to help others understand the early stages, how the disease changes lives, the challenges families face and the role of caregiver.
  2. What happened when I took my dad to a Pitbull concert

    Music & Concerts

    TAMPA — "So, you know how you like Pitbull?" I asked my dad. "We can see him."

    Selfie of Divya Kumar and Anand Kumar at Pitbull/Enrique Iglesias concert.
  3. Tampa City Council votes to accept travel invitation from Cuban ambassador


    The invitation came to Tampa City Council chairwoman Yvonne Yolie Capin in a June 9 letter from Cuban ambassador to the United States José Ramón Cabañas Rodriguez.

    The Tampa City Council voted 6-0, with Frank Reddick out of the room, to respond to a travel invitation from Cuban ambassador to the United States José Ramón Cabañas Rodriguez.
  4. Top things to do in Tampa Bay for June 25


    St. Pete Pride Festival: The daytime festival covers Central Avenue's Grand Central District with more than 350 vendors, multiple stages, live music, art and food. 9 a.m., Grand Central District, 2429 Central Ave., St. Petersburg. Free. (727) 342-0084.

    Kristen Whalen poses for a photo before the start of the St. Pete Pride Parade in St. Petersburg last year. It's that time of year again, so check with us for your planning purposes. [LUIS SANTANA  |   Times (2016)]
  5. Top things to do in Tampa Bay for June 24


    St. Pete Pride Block Party and Night Parade: St. Pete Pride's popular parade moves to downtown St. Petersburg's scenic waterfront. The block party brings DJs, food and drinks starting at 2 p.m. The parade steps off at Fifth Ave NE and Bayshore at 7 p.m. with fireworks at 9:45 p.m. 2 p.m., North Straub Park, Fifth …

    Thousands line the streets of Central Ave. during the St. Pete Pride Parade in St. Petersburg.  [Saturday, June 25, 2016] [Photo Luis Santana | Times]