Chicken Puttanesca combines the classic Neopolitan sauce with chicken that has been sautéed first, then gently simmered to absorb all the wonderful flavours.
Puttanesca and Prostitution
Practised since biblical times, prostitution is the worlds oldest profession. But there’s only one place where it has inspired a sauce, and that is Naples.
Naples is Italy’s third-largest city and the birthplace of pizza. Legend says Naples is also home to sirens so seductive that the only way to resist them is to fill your ears with beeswax and be tied to the mast of the ship.
Our sauce, Puttanesca, translates roughly to “lady of the night.” Well, that’s the polite version. The usual combinations of anchovies, capers, olives, and optional ingredients like garlic, red pepper flakes, chile peppers, and tomatoes make a truly memorable sauce.
Chicken Puttanesca only appears in recipe books from the 1960s onwards.
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Recipe – Chicken Puttanesca
- 2 tbsp Olive oil
- 1.5 kg Chicken thighs and drumsticks bone-in
- Freshly ground black pepper
- 6 cloves Garlic finely sliced
- 4 Anchovy fillets in oil
- ½ tsp Chilli flakes
- 2 tbsp Tomato paste concentrated
- 180 g Olives halved
- 250 ml White wine dry
- 1 tbsp Capers drained
- 2 Bay leaves fresh
- 3 Lemon peel 50mm strips
- 250 ml Water
- 350 g Tagliatelle pasta fresh
- Lemon wedges
- Preheat oven to 180°C/Fan 160°C/Gas 4. Pat chicken dry with paper towels, then season all over with salt and pepper.
- Heat 2 tbsp of the oil in a large oven proof pan over medium-high heat until shimmering. Cook chicken, turning occasionally, until it has rendered some of its fat and skin is golden brown all over, 7–10 minutes. Transfer chicken to a plate. You’ll have a pool of fat left in the pan. Spoon out all but 3 tbsp fat from pan.
- Reduce heat to medium and add garlic and anchovies to the pan. Cook, stirring often, until garlic is softened and anchovies have disintegrated, about 2–3 minutes. Sprinkle in the chilli flakes, then stir in the tomato paste. Cook, stirring occasionally, until the tomato paste begins to split and stick to pan, about 3 minutes. Add the olives, wine, capers, bay leaves (if using), and lemon peel and bring to a simmer (still over medium heat). Cook, stirring occasionally, until most of the wine has evaporated, 5–7 minutes.
- Snuggle chicken (skin side up) into sauce in a single layer. Pour in 250ml of water and bring to a simmer. Transfer the pan to the oven and bake, uncovered, until sauce is thickened and chicken is cooked through, 20–25 minutes (if using whole legs, it’ll take closer to 30–35 minutes). Taste a spoonful of the sauce—it should be salty enough between the anchovies and capers, so you most likely won’t need to season with more salt.
- Transfer chicken to a platter and spoon sauce over. Drizzle with oil and serve with tagliatelle pasta and lemon wedges.