Chicken Puttanesca

I have long been a fan of the Italian puttanesca sauce for serving with various kinds of pasta. What I've now discovered, though, is this variation. This lovely gutsy sauce is also supremely good with chicken that's been sautéed first then gently simmered in the sauce to absorb all the flavours. No need to miss out on the pasta either, as green tagliatelle is the perfect accompaniment.

Serves 4

This recipe is taken from The Delia Collection: Chicken. It has also appeared in Sainsbury's Magazine (Guide to Poultry and Game Cookery)

Chicken Puttanesca
 4 part-boned chicken breasts, skin on, weighing about 8 oz (225 g) each
 2 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil
 2 cloves garlic, crushed
 1 fresh red chilli, deseeded and finely chopped
 1 x 400 g tin Italian chopped tomatoes
 1 rounded tablespoon tomato purée
 6 oz (175 g) pitted black olives, roughly chopped
 1 heaped tablespoon capers, rinsed and drained
 1 level tablespoon chopped fresh basil
 salt and freshly milled black pepper
To serve:
 12 oz (350 g) spinach tagliatelle
 extra sprigs fresh basil
You will also need a 10 inch (25.5 cm) solid frying pan that's not too shallow.


Begin by heating the oil in the frying pan until it's very hot. Wipe the chicken breasts with kitchen paper, season them with salt and pepper, then add them to the hot oil and fry them over a medium heat until they are a rich golden colour on both sides. This will take about 5 or 6 minutes. Then transfer the chicken to a plate and add the garlic and chilli to the pan and fry these briefly for about 30 seconds.

After that, add the tomatoes, tomato purée, olives, capers, chopped basil and some seasoning. Stir everything well, bringing it up to a gentle simmer, then replace the chicken breasts in the pan, skin side up, pushing then well down into the sauce and basting a little over the top. 

Now simmer for 40-45 minutes, uncovered, until the chicken has cooked and the sauce has reduced and thickened.

About 15 minutes before the end of the cooking time, put a large pan of salted water on to the heat and bring it up to the boil – this will take about 10 minutes. Then boil the tagliatelle – put a timer on it and give it 5 minutes. 

After that, quickly drain and serve the chicken with the sauce spooned over, the tagliatelle on the side, and garnish with fresh sprigs of basil.

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