Chef Sam Badolato‘s Hunter’s Chicken

Chef Sam Badolato’s Hunter’s Chicken is all about the bounty of the Sonoma Valley, one of the most beautiful and productive wine areas in California.

Try the dynamic food and wine pairings including Hunter’s Chicken at Valley of the Moon Winery at Madrone Estate in Sonoma Valley.


Chef Sam Badolato‘s Hunter’s Chicken is all about the bounty of the Sonoma Valley, one of the most beautiful and productive wine areas in California. It’s also a valley rich with farmland so naturally it is here you’ll find superb wine and food pairings like Valley of the Moon Winery at Madrone Estate’s wines with offerings from Chef Sam Badolato‘s Window Block Kitchen on site.

The Winery

Valley Of The Moon Winery at Madrone Estate, one of the oldest wineries in the area, was planted in 1863. With this heritage comes great history, great wines and great food. Formally known as Madrone Estate, Tony Stewart, Proprietor says, “As we celebrate the renaissance of Valley of the Moon Winery, our mission is clear: To at last honor the rich history of our Sonoma Valley winery, its true sense of place and sustained sense of purpose with wines of exceptional quality and of genuine provenance.”  We agree, because of Valley of the Moon Winery’s strong food and wine program you should take the winery tour and then settle in with something from Chef Badolato’s Window Block Kitchen to pair with your wine.

Chef Sam Badolato

The Chef

Chef Badolato trained at cooking schools in Italy, then became a private chef in Italian homes in Calabria, perfecting his knowledge of the true Italian meal. Born in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania, Chef Badolato has more than 30 years of hospitality industry experience, including stints as a cooking instructor in Amalfi, Italy. He has owned and was the chef of restaurants ranging from pizzerias to formal dining. Most recently he was at Bado’s Cucina, where his wood-oven cuisine earned numerous culinary awards and recognitions.

As for his love of the Sonoma Valley? Chef Sam says, “Few places in the world offer the opportunities to pair local wines with local ingredients, and nowhere is there more to work with than in Sonoma. The availability of such artfully crafted wines and locally sourced ingredients is a chef’s dream come true.” Chef Sam holds many awards for his cuisine and some of these winners are part of the pairing offerings.

The Food and Wine Pairings

Along with his famous Hunter’s Chicken, Chef Sam has a variety of offerings for guests to enjoy with the wines: a Seasonal Three-Course Wine and Food Pairing, Artisanal Cheese Plate, Rustic Charcuteries Board, Decadent Chocolate Pairing or a Gourmet Box Lunch and ala carte items available too. Window Block Kitchen creates many of his best dishes including Chef Sam’s award-winning Bodega Bay Clam Chowder, Dungeness Crab Cake, and Hunter’s Chicken.

Without further ado we present his Hunter’s Chicken recipe. If you don’t have a sublime 2014 Madrone Old Vine Zinfandel to pair with this, Chef also recommends a 2013 Valley of the Moon Blend ’41 or a 2014 Madrone Estate Barbera.

Chef Sam Badolato‘s Hunter’s Chicken
"Hunter’s Chicken to me is all about the hunt. The truffles, the seasonal foraged mushrooms and the brined Sonoma olives.The availability of such artfully crafted wines and locally sourced ingredients is a chef’s dream come true.” ~ Chef Sam
Recipe Type: Main
Cuisine: California
Serves: 4-6
For Chicken
  • 1-2 chicken legs per person
  • 1 qt. milk
  • 1 tbsp. garlic powder
  • 1 tbsp. onion powder
  • 2 tbsp. rosemary
  • 6 bay leaves
  • 2 tsp. salt
  • 2 tsp. pepper
For Tomato Sauce
  • 1 carrot diced
  • Equal amounts of celery and onion
  • 1 cup mushrooms of choice
  • 2 qts. chopped tomatoes
  • 4 tbsp. olive oil
  • ½ cup flat parsley chopped fine
  • ½ cup chopped black or green olives
  • 1 tsp salt
  • 1 tsp pepper
For polenta:
  • 1 package, making a 4 oz. serving per/person.
  1. For Chicken
  2. Rinse chicken, place in container with all the above ingredients to brine overnight.
  3. Cover and refrigerate.
  4. For Sauce
  5. In a stock pot soften the carrots, celery and onion with olive oil over medium-high heat.
  6. Then add the remaining ingredients to stock pot.
  7. Heat for 10-15 minutes.
  8. Meanwhile, brown the brined chicken in a skillet with olive oil.
  9. Add sauce to oven safe baking dish.
  10. Then, add the browned chicken and cover.
  11. Pre-heat oven to 375 and bake for 1.5 hours.
  12. For polenta:
  13. Follow directions on package, making a 4 oz. serving per/person.
  14. To finish dish, serve the polenta on a plate topped with the red sauce.
  15. Truffles can be shaved and added to the polenta just before serving, if desired.
  16. Add the chicken on top of the polenta and red sauce and enjoy!
  17. Chef's Tip: You can also make this dish a bruschetta by serving the components (polenta, red sauce and chicken) on top of thin sliced ciabatta or crostini.


Michelle M. Winner

Michelle was born with a fork in her hand. As a culinary travel writer and confirmed foodophile she delights in the world-wide discovery of new flavor profiles, spices, salts and herbs. Based in one of the world’s foodie meccas; Portland, Oregon, not far from “Pinot Noir Heaven” Michelle shares food news and chef’s recipes. Her photography has appeared in Saveur Magazine and she has contributed culinary travel articles to Forbes online, WSJ online, Business Insider, Condé Nast Digital Media, Islands magazine and many others. A confirmed globetrotter, she still keeps her bags packed and fork in hand (well . . . except through airport security.)

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