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Rustic Chicken

Pollo Rustico

SERVES 4

My husband loves this rustic chicken dish, which is even better eaten the day after it is prepared. The pancetta and onions add the right balance of flavor. Team this dish with polenta, pasta, rice, or potatoes.

Ingredients

1 1/2 cups cubed eggplant

Salt

1/4 to 1/2 cup peanut oil

2 ounces pancetta, diced

1 medium white onion, peeled and thinly sliced

1 large clove garlic, peeled and minced

2 tablespoons Filippo Berio extra-virgin olive oil

2 whole chicken breasts (about 2 pounds)

1/2 teaspoon fine sea salt

1/4 teaspoon coarsely ground black pepper

3/4 cup dry white wine

2 large ripe plum tomatoes, diced

3 or 4 fresh basil leaves, chopped

Directions

Place the eggplant in a colander. Sprinkle with salt and let stand for 1 hour. Rinse and dry well.

In a skillet, heat 1/4 cup peanut oil. Add the eggplant and sauté until soft, about 6 to 7 minutes. Add more oil as needed. Set the eggplant aside.

In a heavy, heatproof 9-inch casserole, sauté the pancetta over medium heat until it begins to brown. Add the onion and sauté until soft. Add the garlic and continue cooking until garlic is soft. Remove the ingredients to a dish and set aside.

Heat the olive oil in the casserole, add the chicken breasts, and brown slowly on each side. Sprinkle with salt and pepper. Add the reserved pancetta mixture along with the wine, tomatoes, and basil and stir to blend well.

Cover the casserole and cook the chicken slowly for 45 minutes. Add the eggplant and cook 5 minutes more. Remove the chicken breasts to a cutting board and cut in half. Serve the chicken with the vegetable mixture spooned over the top.

This recipe is from NELLA CUCINA by Mary Ann Esposito, published by William Morrow and Company, Inc., in 1993.

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