I’m hosting an informal Easter dinner next Sunday. Some of the friends at the table will be with me in Rome and Naples in a few weeks so I’m serving dishes from those 2 cities.
We’ll start with a savory deep-dish pie, Pizza Rustica filled with ricotta, mozzarella and salumi and a deep-dish ricotta with candied citrus peel pie, Pastiera Napoletana, will be the sweet ending to our meal.
Chicken Roman-Style with red and yellow peppers in a sweet tomato sauce with prosciutto bits will be the piatto secondo, the main course.
Pollo alla Romana con i peperoni is a simple recipe that is ready in about 30 minutes. I used boneless, skinless chicken breast but you can use any chicken parts that please you. If you have more cook time, bone-in pieces will add even more flavor to the dish.
The cooking method used here, insaporire, to develop flavor, is a classic Italian technique. Cook the chicken and peppers separately to develop their full flavors. Then combine them together at the end so that the ingredients absorb flavor from each other and the dish develops distinctive, yet complex flavors.
The chicken is infused with the soft sweetness of the peppers, the salty prosciutto and chunky San Marzano tomato sauce. A perfect flavor balance.
Serve some polenta or rice on the side to absorb the sauce and you have lunch or dinner on one plate.
Just cook the chicken (or fish) atop a bed of green olives, capers and lemon for less than 10 minutes. Serve the tender moist chicken topped with the zesty pan sauce.
Recipe type: Entree
1 pound boneless, skinless chicken breast cut in chunky pieces (or fish fillets).
2 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil
¾ cup pitted olives, roughly chopped (I use big fat green cerignola olives)
1 tablespoon capers
juice of 1 lemon
sea salt to taste
2 tablespoons chopped Italian flat parsley
Mix the olive oil, olives capers and lemon juice in a 10-inch cast iron skillet or a heavy-bottomed saute pan.
Over medium-low heat slowly bring the mixture to a gentle sizzle.
Arrange the chicken pieces (or fish fillets) in a single layer. Cook in batches if necessary.
Cook the chicken until fully cooked, about 4 minutes on the first side and about 3 minutes on the other side. I cover the pan for about half of the cooking time for each side. (Depending on the thickness of the fish fillets cook a minute or 2 on the first side and about a minute on the second side.)
Sprinkle the chicken or fish with the chopped parsley.
Taste the pan sauce and add some salt if necessary.
Put the chicken or fish on a serving platter and pour the pan sauce with the olives and capers on top.
How easy is that? No slaving over pots and pans on top of the stove, everything just roasts in the oven. Make the easy pan gravy while the turkey rests on the counter before carving. Spend less time in the kitchen and more time with your friends and family around the Thanksgiving table.
There are lots of other vegetable recipes on my blog and you can get my free vegetable eBook recipes there too.
Last week we were staying in an updated 1930s cabin overlooking Lake Tahoe. I was excited about the grill on the deck right outside the kitchen door and we used it every day.
One of our dinners included delicious grilled chicken breasts simply marinated in EVOO flavored with garlic and rosemary.
I liked the way the chicken turned out so much that I had to make it when I returned to San Francisco. I don’t have an outdoor grill so I used a grill pan on top of my stove this time. The chicken was flavored through and moist with a nice charred crust. Give the chicken a squeeze of lemon before serving to add a fresh dimension.
I served the grilled chicken with an Italian potato and green bean salad dressed with wine vinegar and EVOO.
This is a easy dish that can be a star on your table any day of the week. Here’s the recipe for two breasts that can easily be adapted to feed more if you like.
Flavor memories of my Mom’s hunter-style braised chicken overwhelmed me. I headed down the hill to get what I needed to make this easy, rustic dish.
I’m a breast man but go ahead and include all of your favorite chicken parts. The breasts take less time to cook so just simmer dark meat pieces a bit longer. Use bone-in and skin-on chicken for more flavor.
My recipe includes my father’s “secret” ingredient. He always added a sweet vinegar pepper to his chicken cacciatore. If you’re really energetic make my easy vinegar pickled peppers. (If you don’t have vinegar peppers use a dozen vinegar-brined capers or just a few drops of red wine vinegar. The acidity balances the sweetness of the peppers.)
I served the chicken cacciatore up with creamy polenta so I didn’t lose any of the sauce on the plate. Boiled rice works well too. You can also use the sauce for pasta.
The chicken is moist and tender, bathed in the chunky, sweet tomato-pepper sauce. I like to get a piece of bell pepper with each bite of chicken. Sometimes when I’m lucky, I get a piece of the piquant vinegar pepper too. Heaven!
You would think everyone would be sated after a big Thanksgiving feast. Two branches of the family were here in northern Jersey and we didn’t want to miss the opportunity to gather together before everyone scattered.
While heavily Italian-American, our table reflected the ethnic blending in America and the many diets prevalent today. The menu was crafted to satisfy the cravings of some at the table and the dietary needs of others.
My goddaughter makes a mean yellow rice passed down from her husband’s maternal Syrian grandma and it was a special request. One of my nieces is vegan so I wanted to make sure there were dishes she could eat too. It was a spectacular meal.
Here’s the menu.
Anitpasti platter with all the stuff we didn’t finish on Thanksgiving.
Ditali pasta in a simple onion and pea sauce.
Chicken Marsala, broccoli rabe and yellow rice. My vegan niece Jo Anne brought great peppers stuffed with spicy mushrooms, quinoa and black beans.
Dolce was all of the pies and cakes we didn’t finish on Thanksgiving. JoAnne’s vegan pumpkin bread was the star.
We had a great day together, catching up on all the family news and enjoying just being together. In our family, our culinary tradition is the glue that holds us all together.
This Chicken Marsala is an easy recipe with a really big payoff. We made enough for 20 at the table and some for Breanna to bring back to college to share with her friends. Buon appetito!
Last Thanksgiving I posted the Italian-American menu for the 4-course Thanksgiving dinner I served at my house in San Francisco. I gave you great wine suggestions for your meal.
This year I’m sharing my recipes for the roasted turkey, chestnut and sausage stuffing and gravy that I’ll make with my family in northern Jersey. I love this meal but I only make it once a year so I’m always happy when Thanksgiving rolls around.
The turkey is golden brown and scented with rosemary, sage, lemon and garlic. The chestnut and sausage stuffing has a crispy crust and adds big flavor to your Thanksgiving table. The gravy is scented by the herbs and garlic and ties everything together.
I don’t know what vegetables we’ll make or what the antipasti or dolce (dessert) courses will be. We’ll decide when the family gathers next week. We’re very democratic about these things.
I do know one thing. My sister Rose will assemble her famous pedestal fruit bowl to accompany an assortment of roasted nuts to help end our Thanksgiving meal. I know Rose’s will be better than the one I made last year. And I know that it will be the centerpiece for our table, has been since we were kids.
I can’t wait to see everyone. A bunch of us will hit the markets to get the best ingredients. Six of us spanning 3 generations will be in the kitchen cooking together. Best of all 20 will be at the table for a day of feasting.
What a day–the fog finally burned off as we headed down the hill to North Beach’s Caffe Puccini to watch the 143rd Italian Heritage Parade–the oldest in the country. Hundreds were lining the parade route already. The tables set up in the street all over the Village were starting to fill up.
We were early. We needed espresso before the party started. Here’s what they gave us. Wasn’t that long ago at Caffe Puccini when a customer asked the barista Antonello for a decaf cappuccino with skim milk he’d scoff “Whaddaya think this is–a pharmacy?” They only had regular coffee and whole milk back then. Not any more–they make it all.
Parade Sunday I always have this table right inside the windows at Caffe Puccini. San Francisco and New York City friends and fans joined my table–a great group drawn together by the biggest Village event of the year.
Graziano didn’t disappoint–antipasti with roasted peppers, fried eggplant, prosciutto, mozzarella fresca with sundried tomato to start. Everyone ordered whatever they wanted after that.
For me it’s always the same meal–an annual tradition. Here’s Graziano’s lasagna alla bolognese–rich and cheesy with that long-cooked brick red meat sauce. The chicken is simply roasted with potatoes and rosemary and is today’s Sunday Recipe. The Volpaia Chianti Classico is one of my favorites. It sold out fast but we got Graziano’s last bottles stashed behind the bar. An absolutely delicious lunch.
By the time we finished the parade appeared before us. Here’s Queen Isabella’s float accompanied by her Court.
Hope to see you at the Parade next year. Enjoy my adaptation of Graziano’s Tuscan chicken roasted with potatoes and rosemary. Buon appetito!
We’re in Naples for this recipe, but we’re in Venice this weekend. Don’t miss a truly special private meal at da Flora Ostaria in North Beach – my favorite restaurant. Join me this Sunday, May 22, to enjoy an authentic Venetian spring dinner, 4-courses paired with 4 special wines.
Now, on to the recipe!
Here’s a zesty dish from Campania that you can have on the table in about an hour. Not many pots and pans to clean up–it’s all made in a single oven pan. This is one of my go-to dishes when I hit the kitchen after a grueling day with nothing ready to eat. Everything will be crispy and golden brown, the fennel mellow and the chicken moist.
Have your way with this one-dish dinner. Use sausage instead of chicken. Use parsnip or turnip instead of potato.
Food author Mark Leslie was in town to promote his book, Beyond the Pasta, about the time he spent living with a family in Viterbo, northwest of Rome. Mornings he was in the kitchen with “Nonna” the grandmother, helping to prepare the family meals each day.
This is an experience I can relate to. So, we decided to both cook chicken cutlets with a potato contorni as a side. Mark’s are Nonna’s Lazio recipes. Mine are my Mom’s chicken cutlet and potato croquette, as they are still served in her birth village of Mirabella Eclano in Campania.
We met up at the Cookhouse (a wonderful new rental loft in North Beach – tell ’em Gianni sent ya!) for a little friendly kitchen battle. Watch the video above to see us cook our dishes side by side. Here are the recipes…