Wednesday, January 20, 2016

Penne alla Puttanesca with Garlic Infused Chicken

by Jim Lannen

Brrrrr... it sure is cold out there! Come in this week for a hearty Italian pasta dish that is sure to warm your bones. On special, we are featuring a pasta that has a ton of flavor and has become one of my favorites this time of year: penne alla puttanesca with garlic infused chicken.

We take a butter garlic-infused chicken breast, grill it and serve it with a sauce consisting of tomato, garlic, onion, kalamata olives, anchovies, capers and green peppers. It is then topped over penne pasta before we smother it with reggiano parmesan cheese.

This sauce is a traditional dish that was created more than 50 years ago in southern Italy. The origin of this dish is a bit... different. To put it bluntly, puttanesca translates as "in the style of the whore." Now I’ll bet you're wondering how this tasty dish became associated with such sordid content. There are many explanations of how this dish came about.

One story claims that at the end of the evening, the prostitutes would come begging at local restaurants for leftovers. This sauce was made of all leftover ingredients. If there was sauce on the stove, anything that may be going bad was put into the simmering sauce. Another version claims the origin of the sauce was created when the prostitutes needed to make something speedy and nutritious between appointments.

Others believe that it was a sauce created by a restaurant owner who had many guests come to his restaurant to eat late one night as he was about to close. He didn't have enough of any one ingredient to make a meal for them all so he took everything out of his kitchen and put it together. And because Italians are so frugal, they would not throw away any food. They would just make it into this amazing tomato sauce recipe.

Let's just stick to that interpretation.......

The robust flavors are what make this dish so good. Its spicy, tangy, and somewhat salty flavors all come together so well. And who doesn't like garlic? The trick to creating this sauce is the simmering process to marry all of the flavors together.

Although the sauce is traditionally served over spaghetti, Chef Chris serves ours over penne pasta and tops it with freshly grated reggiano parmesan cheese.

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