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Roman chicken is one of the first things Nick cooked for me. One night when Nick had first moved in, he insisted that it was his turn to cook dinner.  I’m clearly not very good at sharing my kitchen, so it took it a bit of persuasion. In the end, I reluctantly agreed and feigned enthusiasm. Nick wasn’t really sure what to cook so he promptly called his sister for ideas and a recipe.

I don’t think my constant hovering was helping, and I was quickly banned to the couch. Turns out it is quite fun to not cook dinner and watch TV instead though. Dinner was delicious and this meal remains in our usual rotation because it’s tasty, quick and has green stuff in it.

Roman chicken is one of the harder to find Italian dishes, it has fallen out of fashion in a way. It’s traditionally a peasant dish that requires hours of simmering and cheap cuts from a whole chicken.

Nick and I have been together for seven and half years now, and I still have the handwritten recipe from when Nick’s sister was dictating the recipe to him over the phone. The original has more fancy things in it, like bacon and white wine, but here’s the one we use for lazy weeknights.

Roman Chicken
serves 2

2 medium red capsicums
300g chicken breast or tenderloins, sliced across the grain into 5cm pieces
3 tbsp flour
salt and pepper, to taste
2 tbsp olive oil
3 cloves garlic, finely diced
1 x 400g diced tinned tomatoes
1 tsp sugar
1 bunch broccolini, tough parts of the stalks removed
grated parmesan

penne, to serve, or
boiled potatoes, tossed in butter and chopped parsley or roasted baby potatoes

  1. Preheat your oven to 180C on the upper grill setting.
  2. Cut the top and bottom off the capsicums, then slice lengthwise into four large pieces.
  3. Line a baking tray with foil. Place capsicums skin side up and place under a hot grill until the skins are blackened – about 10 minutes, depending on your oven.
  4. In the meantime, blend the diced tomatoes with a hand blender.
  5. Remove from oven and allow to cool, then remove skins and slice into half centimetre thick slices. Do not rinse the roasted capsicums as it causes it to lose flavour.
  6. Place water for the pasta on to boil.
  7. Combine flour, salt and pepper in a medium bowl. Toss chicken to coat.
  8. Heat oil in a saucepan over medium heat. Add chicken pieces and allow to brown, turning pieces as necessary.
  9. Add garlic and roasted capsicum and stir to combine. Cook for two minutes, then add blended tomatoes and sugar. Simmer on a low heat to allow the sauce to reduce.
  10. Add pasta to the pot of simmering water. In the last two minutes of cooking the pasta, add the broccolini to the pot of boiling water.
  11. Drain pasta and broccolini into a colander.
  12. To serve, divide pasta between two bowls, top with broccolini and a generous serve of sauce. Grate parmesan over the top and add freshly cracked pepper.
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