Pollo ai peperoni

After sour cream-rich waffles, ice cream-topped cobbler, and a pie made with zucchini and tomatoes, yes, but also a buttery pie crust, I thought it was time to shake things up in the Butter-Flour-Sugar Land this blog periodically becomes (sorry not sorry) with pollo ai peperoni, which contains meat, vegetables, and for extra points, also happens to be gluten-free (!!!)

But let's talk chicken, shall we?! It plays a big part in American cuisine, and Americans can't get in enough of it. You'll find it on every restaurant menu, in pot-pies and soups, in chicken finger form, served with pasta (no comment), on salads, and in soups, nestled among buttery dumplings, eaten fried, grilled, poached, or roasted. Italians, on the other hand, could take it or leave it -- I've found it plays a much smaller role in their cuisine. As far as the Italians are concerned, why go for the chicken when you could have veal (saltimbocca alla romana, cotolette alla milanese!) pork (guanciale, pancetta, porchetta) or beef (ragu alla bolognese, bistecca alla fiorentina)?! I've found that in Italy, a chicken breast is what one eats when one has been sick, or is trying to lose weight, and I can probably count on one hand the times I've seen it on a menu here. 

But there are exceptions to every rule -- there are a few classic Italian dishes made with chicken, and what they lack in number they make up for in flavor. There is pollo alla cacciatora, the classic pollo arrosto con patate, and the subject of today's post, pollo ai peperoni, a classic Roman dish with chicken and bell peppers as the stars, and tomatoes, white wine, and fresh herbs as the supporting actors. It makes the best of bell peppers -- late Summer is the start of their season -- and is packed with flavor, the sweetness of the tomatoes and peppers intensified with all the slow cooking, the chicken perfectly cooked and superbly juicy, the herbs waking the whole thing up and adding a little freshness. For me, it is Italian cooking at its best -- simple, straightforward, just a few ingredients required -- not to mention super easy, a matter of throwing everything together in the pan and letting it simmer away for a bit. What's not to like?! 

A couple of notes: If you're not a fan of oregano, you can also use thyme here. I forgot to pick up fresh herbs and used dried oregano, which worked fine in a pinch. Feel free to use a mix of different colored peppers -- some orange might have been nice here too. I used drumsticks because that's what I like, but feel free to use whatever other cut of chicken you want. Though you can use boneless and skinless chicken if you want to keep things healthy, bone-in chicken with skin on is the tastiest and works best in this recipe. As usual, I scaled this recipe down a bit as I was only feeding myself, with leftovers, so feel free to up the quantities if you're feeding a bigger group. Be sure as well to have a big enough pan to accommodate all your ingredients, with high enough sides -- if you have a Dutch oven, that's ideal here.

Looking for other chicken recipes? I've got this Pollo alla cacciatora in bianco, these Cotolette di pollo, and this Roast Chicken with Grapes and Olives. Want another Roman secondo? I've also got Saltimbocca alla romana.


POLLO AI PEPERONI

Ingredients:
1 tablespoon butter
1 tablespoon olive oil
1 pound (500 grams) chicken pieces
1 clove garlic
2 large bell peppers (preferably different colors)
1 1/2 cups (250 grams) cherry tomatoes, sliced
3/4 cup (180 ml) white wine
2 tablespoons tomato paste 
Fresh oregano, to taste (see notes)
1/4 cup water
Salt and pepper as needed

Directions:
Season the chicken on both sides with salt and pepper and set aside. Heat the butter and oil in a large skillet with high sides over medium-low heat. Add the garlic clove and stir it around for a second to let the butter and olive oil get nice and garlicky. Next, add the chicken pieces to the pan, cut side down. Cook the chicken for 20 minutes, turning once about 15 minutes in. While the chicken is cooking, slice up your bell peppers.
 
 
When the 20 minutes are up, add 1/2 cup of the wine to the pan with the chicken, and let it evaporate, about 5 minutes. When the wine is evaporated, add the peppers and tomatoes to the pan, placing them around and under the chicken. Add the last 1/4 cup of wine to the tomato and peppers, and let that cook off for a minute or two. Finally, add the tomato paste and the oregano or thyme, and give everything a good stir and a season with salt and pepper. Cover the pan.
 
Let the pollo ai peperoni cook for about 45 minutes, occasionally removing the lid on the pan to stir the peppers and tomatoes. After 45 minutes the chicken should be ready, but depending on what pieces of chicken you've used, this could take up to an hour. Test if the chicken is done by cutting in to the thickest part of the chicken -- if the juices are clear and the meat isn't pink, you're good to go. 
 
Remove the chicken to a plate and turn your attention to the tomatoes and peppers. Add 1/4 cup of water to the pan and swirl around to loosen the sauce up. Let cook for another five minutes or so.
 
Fish the garlic clove out of the sauce and discard. Taste the sauce and adjust the seasonings if necessary, then transfer it to a platter and top it with the chicken. Eat the whole thing with bread on the side to not let any of the sauce go to waste. Serves 2.






















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