I didn’t want to do a tomato sauce per se, but one where the tomatoes take a back seat to another flavor. I was cleaning out the veggie drawer and realized I had a gold mine of red bell peppers. I wanted something that would show off the spicy sweetness of the peppers .
Bingo. Patricia Wells’ Trattoria had the answer. This wonderful recipe, Pollo alla Peporanata was perfect.
The butter, homemade chicken stock, melted red onions and crushed tomatoes lend a velvety richness to the sauce starring those red bells. It’s at once subtle and strong, with a silkiness brightened by a splash of balsamic vinegar at the last minute making this well suited to pasta or grilled polenta wedges.
I love it when a plan comes together.
Pollo alla Peporanata
Adapted from Trattoria by Patricia Wells
2 red bell peppers, cut into thin lengthwise strips
Coarse sea salt to taste
Extra virgin olive oil
1 tbsp finely minced rosemary leaves
1 large red onion, cut in half lengthwise and then cut crosswise into very thin slices
Good pinch sugar
5 boneless chicken thighs, cut into pieces
Freshly ground black pepper to taste
1 tbsp butter
1 16 ounce can peeled Italian plum tomatoes in juice or 1 15 ounce can crushed tomatoes in puree
Several sprigs of fresh Italian parsley, bay leaves, sprigs of fresh rosemary and celery leaves tied in a bundle with twine.
½ cup chicken stock, preferably homemade (you can’t believe the difference if you use homemade)
A splash of very good balsamic vinegar
In a large skillet combine the peppers a pinch of salt, and a couple of swirls of extra virgin olive oil. Toss to coat the peppers with oil and cook, covered, over very low heat, stirring from time to time until soft and glazed about 15 minutes. Remove from the heat and set aside.
In the same skillet, combine the onions, a pinch of salt, rosemary, sugar and a couple of swirls of extra virgin olive oil. Toss to coat the onions with oil and cook uncovered over very low heat stirring from time to time until the onions are very soft and glazed about 10 minutes. Remove from the heat and set aside.
Season the chicken liberally with salt and pepper. In skillet combine a couple of swirls of extra virgin oil and the tbsp of butter over medium heat. When hot, add chicken and cook , in batches and be sure to regulate the heat so the butter doesn’t scorch. When all chicken is cooked, return to pan. Add the tomatoes and herb bundle and let cook 5 minutes. The add chicken stock, onions and peppers and simmer until chicken is cooked through about 25 minutes. Remove and throw out the herb bundle.
Add the splash of vinegar and cook about five more minutes.
Serves 3 generously.