Crispy chicken in a spicy tomato sauce with capsicum / bell peppers, olives, capers. I call it an Italian Chicken Casserole because it’s stew-like, with plenty of sauce to slop up with crusty bread or to toss through pasta. A fabulous, hearty dinner you can get on the table in less than 30 minutes!
This Italian Chicken Casserole is inspired by a Sicilian Chicken recipe by Mario Batali, an Italian- American chef and restauranteur. He’s also one of the collaborators of New York’s popular Eataly, an emporium of all things Italian that was the single most visited place during my last visit to New York. Great for souvenirs, for a quick lunch, for afternoon tea (oh, the pastry counter!!), for an early evening glass of wine (oh, the wine bar!!) with cheese and cured meats (oh, the deli!), or for a full multi-course dinner (oh, the choices of restaurants!!).
And while some head home with the the obligatory t-shirt with “I ❤️ NYC” emblazoned across it, I always take home a cookbook from each country I visit. Don’t ask me why it’s different to buy a Lidia and Mario Batali cookbook in Eataly when I can order it online with free delivery. It just is. And I get to curse my impractical decision for the entire rest of the trip as it adds an extra couple of kilos to my luggage.
I remember doing the exact same thing in Mexico. 🙄
The original recipe by Mario Batali is actually quite different. It has carrots, celery, potatoes and eggplant in it and there’s far less sauce. Regular readers know I’m a fan of sauce. If I share a recipe without a sauce or that’s not exceptionally saucy, there is a very good reason for it.
I wanted more sauce.
So I created more sauce. And so as not to offend purists, I changed the name to Italian Chicken Casserole!! 😉
Oh – and I also made the chicken crispy. I recently learned of a new way to make crispy chicken skin on the stove without using any oil, courtesy of my mother and the Teriyaki Chicken video I recently made for her. So I put that into practice for this recipe. 🙂
As for serving, I’m happy either way – crusty bread to dunk into the sauce, or tossing the sauce through pasta. There’s enough sauce that you can toss half of it through pasta and serve the other half with the chicken, as shown below.
Though I call this a casserole, it’s not simmered for hours on the stove. The chicken is cooked through and super juicy (because I use thigh), but not falling off the bone. That’s the way I’ve made this recipe – a 30 minute midweek meal. However, I know some of you are all about “falling off the bone” so I’ve added notes in the recipe for how to adjust for that (but you have to sacrifice the crispy skin!!!). – Nagi x
PS I know the skin of the chicken looks almost artificially golden. But chicken skin cooked the way I do it in this recipe using no oil truly comes out this golden. In fact, I had to dial back the colour saturation in the photos because it just looked so darn golden. That’s a first!!!
- 5 chicken thighs , skin on, bone in (about 200g / 7 oz each) (Note 1 for breast)
- Salt and pepper
- 2 tsp olive oil
- 2 garlic cloves , minced
- 1 medium onion , finely chopped
- 1 EACH red and green capsicum / bell pepper , sliced
- ½ cup / 125 ml white or red wine (any is fine, I use dry white) (Note 2 for subs)
- 800 g / 28 oz can crushed tomato
- ¾ cup / 185 ml water , swilled in empty tomato can
- 1 tsp red pepper flakes (chilli flakes), adjust to taste
- 3/4 cup black olives , pitted (or 1/3 cup sliced)
- 2 tbsp baby capers
- Salt and pepper to taste
- ¼ cup finely chopped parsley
Use a small knife to prick 5 or so gashes into the skin of the chicken. Sprinkle each side with salt and pepper.
Place chicken skin side down in a cold large non stick skillet, then turn stove onto medium high. As it heats up, the fat under the skin will start to melt through the holes in the skin.
Cook for 4 – 5 minutes or until the skin is golden and crispy. Turn the chicken and cook the other side for 3 minutes.
Remove chicken onto a plate, discard fat (don’t scrape the pan) then return to the stove.
Add oil, garlic and onion. Cook for 1 minute, then add capsicum. Cook for 2 minutes then add wine. Bring to a simmer and stir, scraping the pan to get those golden bits mixed in.
Once most of the wine is evaporated and it doesn’t smell winey anymore, add the tomato, water and pepper flakes. Stir, bring to a simmer, adjust heat so it’s bubbling energetically but not rapidly (and not slowly).
After 5 minutes (or so), stir through olives and capers. Taste the sauce and add salt and pepper.
Then place chicken into the sauce, being careful not to submerge the skin. Cook for another 5 minutes.
Sprinkle over parsley. Serve with crusty bread, or use half the sauce to toss through / pour over pasta and the other half to serve with chicken (see photos in post).
1. CHICKEN BREAST option: Use 4 small breasts or 3 medium ones, pound to even thickness about 1.5cm / 2/3" thick (makes it more tender too). Sprinkle with salt and pepper, sear with 1 tbsp oil over medium high heat for 2 minutes on each side until golden. Then add it back into the pan for 3 minutes at the end.
2. Sub with chicken broth or even water.
3. CRISPY SKIN: The technique used to make crispy skin is one I learned from my mother’s Teriyaki Chicken. It’s a super way to remove excess fat (and healthier too!!) to make the skin really crispy without using any oil to cook the chicken.
4. WORKFLOW: This recipe flows nicely in a way that you can easily get this on the table in 30 minutes. Start the chicken in the cold pan, and meanwhile start chopping the ingredients for the sauce. While the onion etc are being sautéed, open the tomatoes, grab you red pepper flakes. While the sauce is simmering, measure out the olives etc. See? Nice flow!
5. FALL APART MEAT: The chicken in this recipe is very juicy because it's thigh plus simmered in the sauce. However, I know some people are a fan of super tender meat so in order to do that, put the chicken into the sauce after you add the tomato and water, put the lid on and simmer for 30 minutes or until the chicken is tender to your taste. You may need to add more water and you will lose the crispy skin, but you'll get super tender flesh!
6. NUTRITION: Please note that approximately 2.5 tbsp (300 calories) of fat is discard in this recipe but I don't know how to subtract that in the nutrition calculator. So the corrected estimated calories per serving is about 497 calories per serving.
WATCH HOW TO MAKE IT
Spicy Italian Chicken Casserole recipe video!
LIFE OF DOZER
When he forgot how he got on the Marine Police Wharf (via the low tide water) and thought he was trapped on the other side of the gate. 🙄