Chicken Puttanesca.

This dish combines a couple of recipes that I absolutely love – Chicken Milanese and Pasta Puttanesca.

Usually when I make Chicken Milanese – thin fillets of chicken breast covered in breadcrumbs, parmesan cheese and lightly pan fried, I serve it with my favorite Vodka Sauce and a side of thin spaghetti.

And usually when I make Puttanesca Sauce – tangy sauce of  tomato, olive, onions, and capers, I serve it with pasta or even Spaghetti Squash.

So why not combine two classics for a new favorite dinner.

Even though there are quite a few ingredients, they are mostly pantry items so you can have everything on hand to put this meal together pretty quickly.

Here’s what you need:

(I realized that not everything made it into the first photo so you get two ingredient photos today. I’ve combined them all on the shopping list and the printable recipe.)

Chicken Breasts, Flour, Eggs, Bread Crumbs, Parmesan/Romano Cheese, Olive Oil, Onion, Garlic, Anchovies, Diced Tomatoes, Calamata Olives, Capers, Red Pepper Flakes, Fresh Parsley, Salt & Pepper.

Click here for a Chicken Puttanesca Shopping List

Start with a little chopping – 1 medium onion (about 1 cup), 5-6 cloves of garlic, and a flat tin of anchovies (about 8-10) that have been drained of their oil.

Do not fear the anchovies! They provide amazing depth of flavor and I promise that in the sauce they are not fishy or icky in the slightest. If you are creeped out by the actual little anchovies (and you know who you are), you can also use a tablespoon or two of anchovy paste.

Start with a pan that has not been preheated. Pour 2 Tablespoons of oil in a large pan and add the chopped anchovies, garlic, and a big pinch (about 1/2 teaspoon) of red pepper flakes. Turn the heat on medium and let the ingredients all heat up together. This lets the garlic and pepper flakes infuse the oil without them burning.

After a minute when the pan starts to sizzle, turn the heat up to medium high and add the chopped onion. Cook the onion for about 5 minutes until tender but not browned.

Add 2 (14 ounce cans) of diced tomatoes and their juices to the pan. Bring the sauce up to a simmer then turn the heat down to low and let it cook, bubbling gently, while you prepare the chicken. Note:  if your sauce starts to look a little dry, put a lid on while it simmers.

Anytime a recipe says Milanese in the title, it is usually referring to a cutlet type piece of meat (chicken, pork, or veal) that has been breaded and quickly pan fried.

I do my chicken slightly different from many recipes in that I prefer to cut my cutlets rather than pound them. I’m not a big fan of pounding chicken to flatten it. When you make thin cutlets by cutting with a knife, it leaves the meat more intact and gives you a bit juicier result.

To make chicken cutlets, trim any excess fat or cartilage from a boneless, skinless chicken breast half. Working VERY CAREFULLY with one hand on top of the chicken to keep it in place, run a sharp knife horizontally through the piece of chicken. It’s easiest if you start at the thicker end of the chicken breast and keep your knife blade parallel to the cutting board.

I started with 3 chicken breasts halves making 6 thin cutlets. Remember that these don’t have to be perfect…they will be covered with delicious breading.

Speaking of delicious breading, we will need to make a little breading station using 3 flat, shallow dishes. Pie plates or pasta bowls are good for breading if you don’t have official breading pans.

The first pan has 3/4 cup of flour seasoned with salt & pepper. The second has 2 eggs, lightly beaten, and seasoned with salt & pepper.

The third pan has 1 cup of dried bread crumbs (either plain or Italian seasoned will do the trick) mixed with 1 cup of shredded parmesan or romano cheese.

Take a chicken cutlet and dip or dredge it on both sides in the flour mixture, gently shaking off any excess flour.

Next give it a dunk on both sides in the egg mixture allowing any excess egg to drip off.

Then it’s into the breadcrumb and cheese tray. With this step, I often find that I have to use my fingers to gently press the crumbs and cheese onto the cutlet. When both sides are breaded, gently shake off any excess, set aside on a rack or plate, and continue to bread all the cutlets.

Heat 2-3 Tablespoons of olive oil in a large non-stick skillet over medium high heat. Add the cutlets in 2 batches being sure not to over crowd the pan. Cook the chicken 3-4 minutes per side until golden brown and cooked through.

You may need to add a bit more oil to the pan for the second batch but I prefer to add more oil rather than having my cutlets swimming in oil as they cook. I love cooking chicken this way. Because the cutlets are so thin, they cook quickly without drying out. You can keep the cutlets warm in a low oven until they have all been fried to a delicious golden brown.

By now the sauce should have simmered and thickened nicely. To finish it off, add 1/2 cup of chopped pitted calamata olives and 2 Tablespoons of drained capers. To thicken the sauce, add 1-2 Tablespoons of tomato paste and stir to combine. Season with salt and pepper to taste but remember that the olives, anchovies, and capers are all quite salty so be sure to taste first and as you season.

Serve each chicken cutlet with a heaping spoonful of the puttanesca sauce and some chopped fresh parsley or basil.

Add a green veg or salad and dinner is served.

Here’s the recipe:

Chicken Puttanesca

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