I’m not a particularly enthusiastic football supporter … but if I am asked which team I go for then the answer is a definite ‘Roma’ – Viva la Roma! The singer with the gravelly voice, Antonello Venditti, wrote a song for his much loved team called “Grazie Roma!” : http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=SVGJ6OHMIgc. His previous song “Roma, Roma, Roma” has become its anthem and I remember buying the single (i.e. vinyl record 45) in the early seventies and playing it at boarding school in England and belting out the words very loudly, much to the bewilderment and no doubt pained longsuffering of my fellow form members and friends. It wasn’t so much the Roma football team that got me going, but the Eternal City itself which I was missing dreadfully. http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=1xigDH384K0
The Roma football team’s colours are red and yellow (as Antonelli Venditti sings “gialla come il sole, rossa come il core mio”) i.e. yellow just like the sun and as red as the heart. And red and yellow, of course, are the colours of the capsicum/peppers that go with the traditional Roman recipe “pollo con i peperoni” (chicken with peppers). I wrote up one such recipe in a post in June of last year (see http://myhomefoodthatsamore.wordpress.com/?s=pollo+con+i+peperoni). I thought I would do a little variation on the theme …
And here is a lovely chicken (‘pollo ruspante’) cut up for my by the butcher. He highly recommended it — it came from the “Avicunicula Russo” chicken farm in Fossalto, near Campobasso in Molise and was raised the way chickens used to be raised once upon a time. The price reflected this approach and one chicken cost me Eu 19.20 — compare that with an average supermarket chicken costing and average of Eu 5.00!
Drizzle a little olive oil into a frying pan and brown the pieces of chicken on quite a high heat. Once they have browned on one side, turn them over to brown on the other side. Do this only once (i.e. turn them once only).
Cover the bottom of the pan with tomato sauce. Do not put too much tomato sauce in — just as with the sage, we want a hint of tomato, not a soup.Place the chicken pieces, all of them, all pressed together, over the bed of tomato sauce, garlic, rosemary, sage and pan fats and olive oil … turn the heat on, cover with a lid, and cook until … cooked! In this case it took just over 15 minutes.
Time to get on with the peperoni, which I wanted to turn into two separate sauces.
The peperoni had cooled down by now … I tried peeling the skin of the peperoni, and gave up very quickly. I haven’t got that kind of patience. Had I roasted them in the oven, where they would have blistered, I might have had a better chance but “pazienza!” (patience, never mind) as they say in Italian … my peperoni were going to have most of their skin on. I cut them up, deseeded them, and left them to drip some of their liquid away in a colander.
For the red peperone sauce, I thought I would add garlic (in order to differentiate it from the yellow sauce). Fresh garlic can be a little too ‘garlicky’, however, for some people (myself included in this case) and so I opted for a beautiful compromise. The above are cloves of garlic that have been lightly stewed in boiling water and vinegar, drained and then packed in oil. They retain all the sweetness and taste of fresh garlic without any of the pungence and sulphurous breath-ruining effects (garlic is a great source of sulphur, which is another good reason to consume it in abundance but we have to draw the line at bad breath sometimes, in the interest of encounters of the intimate kind).
Here is a close-up of the jar … it was a present from friends who come from Foggia, in Puglia. My son loves these garlic cloves and we are about to run out. Maybe I could try making some at home? Whatever … they proved a life-saver for me that day.
And, rather than adding sugar to the red peperone sauce, I thought I would use a teaspoon of honey instead. So … in the processor went the chopped up and drained red capsicum, a few leaves of basil, salt, the honey and two of the garlic cloves packed in oil, and a drizzle of olive oil, and salt and pepper.
I used a teaspoon to put dollops of the sauces, alternating colours, onto a dinner plate. You can see how highly I regard ‘fuss’, can’t you …. In my defence, it was getting rather late (well past 9 p.m.) and the usual aesthetic spiel about ‘anche l’occhio vuole la sua parte’ (the eye wants its share too) was not very convincing by the time I got to serve dinner.
TIME TO SERVE UP!
But there is another version if you can’t be bothered … and that is to use a nice ceramic serving plate:
Oh … and the chicken? Delicious, really really good. I’d rather eat expensive chicken like this once in a while than the cheap-and-nasty variety on a regular basis.
I absolutely agree with what one of my favourite food experts, Mr Gareth Jones, has to say on the matter: http://www.garethjonesfood.com/category/chicken/. Mr Jones’ reminds of me the Roma colours too … plenty of heart (red) and plenty of sunshine (yellow).