Chicken Puttanesca for the Soul


As it turns out, one’s final semester at an engineering school is a crappy time to try to cook, much less blog, this past week being no exception.

Between two tests, downloading and trying to learn how to use Arena, working on a month long simulation project (which involves playing large amounts of Pandemic 2 with lots data collection and no actual enjoyment) and a Mathematica analysis for a car that is no longer going to the competition for which it was designed, I feel like I don’t have time to breathe.

Did I say that was last week? That was today. 

Which, looking at that eternal to do list, was why I took two hours and some newly sharpened knives to make Chicken Puttanesca with a gigantic loaf of home made french bread and some arugula, cherry tomato and mushroom salad.

Salty, savory and spicy, chicken puttanesca (literally “whore’s chicken” in Italian, although how it got that name seems to be somewhat contested) is my perfect comfort food so, combined with punching a thick dough into submission it made the perfect meal for what promises to be a hellish week.

Now, as I begin the countdown to graduation, lets pray I can give myself more chances to really cook before I lose my mind.

Enjoy the meal and bon appetit!



Chicken Puttanesca

  • 2 lb chicken meat cut into cubes. I usually buy a 5 lb or so chicken and butcher it myself. This is completely optional but you do get a lovely carcass for the stock pot.
  • 2 28 oz cans of whole tomatoes, liquid reserved
  • 2 bottles of kalamata olives, drained and halved 
  • 2 bottles of capers, drained
  • 2 cans of anchovies, chopped, oil reserved
  • 10 oz mushrooms, quartered
  • 2 largeish shallots, chopped fine
  • 2 cloves garlic, minced
  • 1/2 cup chopped fresh parsley
  • 1 tsp crushed red pepper
  • 1/2 cup dry white wine
  • salt and pepper to taste
  1. Heat some of the anchovy oil over medium high heat in a heavy sauce pot. Dry and season chicken with salt and pepper and brown in batches, adding more oil as needed (about 3 minutes per side). Set aside and repeat with the mushrooms, adding a little salt and pepper to season. Set the mushrooms aside. 
  2. Add the shallots and the garlic and sautee for a few minutes, until softened slightly. Deglaze with the white wine.
  3. Add the tomatoes and their juice and bring to a boil. Reduce to a simmer and pulse a few times with an immersion mixer to break up the tomatoes. (If you don’t have an immersion blender, crushed tomatoes can be substituted) Return to a simmer and add in anchovies, capers, olives, red pepper and season with salt and pepper. After about ten minutes of simmering, add in parsley and simmer for 45 minutes.

French Bread

  • 6 1/4 cups bread flour
  • 2 1/4 cups warm water (~100F)
  • 2 1/4 tsp active dry yeast
  • 1 Tbsp butter, melted
  • 1 Tbsp sugar
  • 1 Tbsp salt
  1. Add yeast to water and allow to froth
  2. Combine all ingredients in a large mixing bowl and knead for 20 minutes, or until a moderate window pane can be achieved.
  3. Cover dough and let proof in an oiled bowl until doubled in size (about one hour)
  4. Preheat oven to 425F
  5. Roll proofed dough into a ball and place on a cast iron pan and place in the oven for about 30 minutes

Arugula Salad

  • 2 Tbsp Anchovy Oil
  • 2 Tbsp Lemon Juice
  • 1 Tbsp Butter
  • 10 oz Mushrooms, sliced
  • 1 box Arugula Roquette
  • 2 cups Cherry Tomatoes
  • 1 tsp Parsley
  1. Sautee mushrooms over medium heat in butter, taking care not to crowd the pan. Deglaze with oil and lemon juice and add in parsley. Pour hot mixture over arugula to wilt slightly and add in tomatoes.