A Neapolitan Sauce To Perk Up Chicken

October 06, 1991|By Charlyne Varkonyi

Even those who vow that they despise anchovies will love this quick-cooking sauce.

Typically served on top of pasta, puttanesca sauce offers a flavorful blend of tomatoes, garlic, capers and olives that also can be used to perk up even the dullest of broiled chicken breasts.

The history of this sauce is as rich as its flavor. It originated in the slums of Naples and supposedly was a favorite of the local prostitutes (puttanas) who, according to folklore, would prepare the sauce with pasta for their customers from items readily available in the kitchen. Another version claims that the quick-cooking sauce could be put on the stove right before the customer arrived and be finished when he was ready to leave.

My adaptation of the traditional puttanesca uses both black and green olives for color and chopped tomatoes for texture. Serve it with white rice studded with walnuts and onions, green salad and frozen yogurt. A quick and easy solution for chicken flavor in the rice is concentrated chicken broth flavor, a thick liquid concentrate that produces a richer flavor than bouillon cubes.

Items you should have in your pantry include: olive oil, garlic, capers, red crushed pepper, white rice, butter, green onions, salad greens and salad dressing.

Your 10-item-or-less shopping list should include:

*1 1/4 pounds chicken breasts, boneless and skinless

*1 can anchovies, 2 ounces

*1 can whole tomatoes, 28 ounces

*1 can sliced black olives, 2 1/4 ounces

*1 can green olives stuffed with pimientos, 2 ounces

*1 bunch fresh basil

*1 bag chopped black walnuts, (2 ounces)

*1 bottle concentrated chicken broth flavor, 4.2 ounces

*frozen yogurt

Chicken with puttanesca sauce

Makes 4 servings.

1 1/4 pounds chicken breasts, boneless and skinless

1 tablespoon olive oil

1 can anchovies (2 ounces)

2 cloves garlic, chopped

1 can whole tomatoes (28 ounces)

1 can (2 1/4 ounces) sliced black olives

16 stuffed green olives, cut in half

2 teaspoons capers

pinch red crushed pepper

fresh basil, about 6 big leaves, chopped

Broil chicken breasts about 4 inches from the heating element. Cook about 6 to 7 minutes per side.

Meanwhile, heat oil in frying pan and add anchovies. While cooking on medium heat, mix with wooden spoon until broken up into paste. Add chopped garlic and cook until brown, about 2 minutes. Chop tomatoes coarsely; add chopped tomatoes and liquid to saucepan. Bring to boil, then turn down to low and cook about 5 minutes. Add olives, capers and red crushed pepper and simmer for about 10 minutes, adding basil for last 2 minutes of cooking.

A5 Cut chicken into chunks. Serve topped with sauce.

Rice studded with walnuts and onions

Makes 4 servings.

1/3 cup water

1 tablespoon concentrated chicken broth flavor or 2 chicken bouillon cubes

1/2 cup white rice

1 tablespoon butter

4 green onions, chopped

1 bag (2 ounces) chopped black walnuts, about 1/3 cup

Put water in a saucepan and heat to boiling. Add concentrated chicken broth or bouillon cubes and bring to boil. Add rice, turn down to low, cover and cook for 20 minutes.

Meanwhile, melt butter in a small frying pan. Saute onions and walnuts until brown, about 2 to 3 minutes. When rice is done, add onions and walnuts and mix well.

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