One of the most well-known meat dishes in Roman cuisine is definitely il pollo ai peperoni, chicken with bell peppers. In Rome, this is a dish we traditionally eat on the 15th of August, or Ferragosto, the biggest holiday of summer and the reason why everything is closed for a good week or two during the month of August!
Historically, the word Ferragosto comes from the Latin Feriae Augusti, a time of rest following the end of the crop period. All the fields were sown and it was time for a well-deserved break! Augusto Turati, fascist leader in Italy during the 1930s, thought that reinstating Ferragosto would be a perfect way to be loved by the Italian people. And boy was he right! By installing a new train system and setting cheaper prices during the holiday, Augusto allowed the people to travel outside the walls of their city for a few days. To this day, during the Ferragosto period, hoards of people flood out of the city towards the countryside, where picnics are organized with family and friends.
As it often happens with dishes that are associated with a certain holiday, you forget that you are actually allowed to eat it any day of the year! Below is the recipe that has been passed down generations in my family. Of course, everyone makes their own little tweaks to it but it goes something like this. And as I said, don’t wait until next August to make it! Honestly, I love this in fall as much as in summer.
Pollo ai peperoni. Photo from Pepper Restaurant. See their Facebook page: https://facebook.com/pepper.roma.it
Pollo ai Pepperoni or Chicken with Bell Peppers
Ingredients for 4 persons:
- 1 kg (or 2.2 lbs) of chicken
- 1 clove of garlic
- 2 large peppers (one yellow and one red)
- 1 cup of wine
- 250g (8.8 oz) of tomato pulp
- Salt to taste
- Extra virgin olive oil to taste
- Wash the peppers, open them up and remove the seeds and white bits inside. Cut them into long strips.
- In a frying pan, heat the olive oil and brown the garlic clove to give the oil more flavor.
- Now move onto the chicken. Depending on how you like it you can either cut it in small bite-sized strips or chop it up in bigger pieces and cook it whole (I like to use the thighs, as they are the juiciest part of the chicken and full of flavor). Place the chicken in the pan and let it brown on all sides.
- Once the chicken has browned, pour the wine in the pan and let the alcohol evaporate.
- Add the peppers and the tomato pulp. Salt to taste, cover and leave to cook for about 30 minutes (the cooking time will depend on the size of the chicken pieces). Finally, remove the lid and continue cooking to let the sauce thicken for another 10 minutes or so.