Saturday, March 9, 2013

Summer in a dish: Pollo ai Peperoni

 This week with the release of The Christie Curse: a book collector mystery, readers will get a chance to meet Senora Panetone, the eccentric cook for Vera Van Alst, curmudgeonly collector and employer of Jordan Bingham, research assistant, dogsbody and now amateur sleuth.  Jordan loves the job and she especially loves the mountainous meals served by the talented and zany senora ."Eat! You eat!"  As we are polishing book two: The Sayers Swindle, it’s time to pick the right recipes to include at the end of the book (and in the meals eaten).

We find this one irresistible! Although the senora would make this simple chicken dish using ripe, luscious tomatoes and juicy peppers from her own garden, it’s even good in the winter with whatever passes for tomatoes and peppers.

Made in March, it's not as good as the late summer version, but it's very tasty. And for you busy people out there, it’s easy to make, reasonably quick cooking and even better the next day.  

Pollo ai Peperoni

This is a typical and traditional Italian dish. Senora usually makes it this way, but sometimes she changes it to keep you on your toes, or because she has a little more or less of something.

2 chickens, cut into serving pieces
4 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil
3 garlic cloves, slivered
½ cup dry white wine (whatever you have, although in Rome it would probably be Frascati)
3 juicy peppers, seeded and cut in strips. We used orange and green to contrast with the tomatoes
1 pound fresh ripe tomatoes, peeled, seeded and chopped.
1 tablespoon fresh thyme leaves or 1 tsp (or to taste) dried thyme
1/4  cup flour for chicken
Salt and pepper


If the senora was writing this, she might say, first you catch your chicken. Please take the easier route and buy the chicken already cut - although free range might make it better!  We cut it ourselves and it was the longest part of the recipe.

 To skin the tomatoes, pop into a pot of boiling water for about 1 minute or until skin splits.  Remove with a slotted spoon, remove skin, quarter tomatoes, take out seeds and shop the rest.

In a large pan, heat the oil with the garlic for about 5 minutes. Dry the chicken and shake in a bag with the flour. You can skip this stage if you want, but it won’t brown as nicely.  Add chicken to the oil and garlic and brown the pieces all over. If there is too much chicken fat in the pan, you may want to remove some with a bulb baster.  Then sprinkle with wine.

Cook for two minutes, then add the tomatoes and the peppers. Season with salt and pepper, cover tightly and simmer for about 40 minutes.

Don’t cook too high or too long if you want the chicken to be tender and you do.

The senora would serve this Italian classic with a crisp green salad, a loaf of crusty bread and a glass of Frascati.  Enjoy in a cozy setting in winter while thinking of summer to come.

And while we're here, what's your favorite Italian dish?


The Christie Curse: a book collector mystery, by Victoria Abbott is available NOW!  

Did Agatha Christie write a play during her mysterious eleven day disappearance in 1926? That play is what Jordan has to locate for her boss, the most hated woman in Harrison Falls, NY.  Too bad people are dying. Will Jordan be next? She'll miss a lot of great meals if she is. Don't miss this fun first in a new series.

Victoria Abbott is Mary Jane Maffini & Victoria Maffini visit them at


  1. Love the book--and the "meals". Do you cook as a team, "Victoria"?

    I'm still drooling over a green lasagna I had in a hole in the wall place in Florence (maybe six seats around the edge). It was so good I went back on another day. All the parts just melded together perfectly. Sigh.

  2. Thanks, Sheila! We don't cook as a team although we both love to cook. Glad you like The Christie Curse.

    I think we'll get the senora working on some shots of green lasagna! Was it the traditional kind? Vegetarian?

  3. "First you catch the chicken" - lol, that's what my father would say! fun post, MJ. Chicken and peppers makes me happy, happy--mainly because anything with peppers makes me happy, happy. Ditto your new release. Everyone should run--not after the chicken but after your stellar new book and enjoy!

    1. I knew you'd recognize it, Cleo. It's great to have Italian relatives - guarantee of good food. Glad you liked the recipe. We appreciate your kind words about the book!

  4. I had one of my favorite Italian dishes for supper last night-gnocchi with pesto sauce. I first had the dish when I lived in Little Italy in Cleveland, OH. Yummmm!

    1. Yum indeed! We'll see if the senora will whip up some gnocchi in The Wolfe Widow (Book three)

      Victoria Abbott (channeling through MJ today)

  5. Replies
    1. You are not alone, PG.

      It's been added to the list!

      Thanks for coming by.

      Victoria Abbott (channeling though MJ today)

  6. Love the look of this dish MJ/Victoria--and the premise of your series. You ladies are very clever!

    My favorite Italian food is the pizza we gobbled in Rome--fresh out of the oven with the most amazing proscuitto on top...

    1. Mmmm, prosciutto on pizza! In Rome! How cool is that? Also how hot is that! This makes the list, Lucy/Roberta! Thanks so much


  7. This looks delicious! And I have a red and yellow pepper in the fridge looking to be put into something. My favorite Italian dish was my grandmother's tomato sauce. Nothing can touch it. She gave me the recipe, but it never turns out quite the same way for me!

    1. Thanks, Peg! What is it with the dishes from our mothers and grandmothers? I can never recapture the magic taste. I hope sometime you'll share your tomato sauce recipe!

      MJ for Victoria

  8. Good choice in wine. They make a lovely, very reasonably priced red, too.
    How many people do you think this will feed? Looks like a good amount for two hearty meals with the second having time for the flavors to develop even more.
    As to pizza-try some arugula with that prosciutto. Yummy

    Best wishes on the new book. May all your mysteries be well fed.

    1. Thanks, Libby! The official version is serves six, but a lot depends on who they are.

      Arugula with the prosciutto on the pizza? Oh my.

      Cheers from MJ and Victoria

  9. I have a feeling this might be my favorite Italian dish! So many of my favorite flavors. There's a Goldie Hawn movie, maybe Seems Like Old Times, in which the housekeeper (if memory serves) is known for her Chicken Peperoni. I always wondered just what that was. I bet it's this dish!

    I can see that I'm going to love this new series. How could anyone resist a title like The Christie Curse?


    1. Than you, Krista! Must find that movie!

      Thanks also for your kind words about The Christie Curse. We still find everything Christie hard to resist.

      MJ and Victoria