Sunday, 6 July 2014

Eggplant Caponata with chicken breast

Chicken is the "side dish" for this fantastic Sicilian recipe, which a dear friend from Trapani gave me long time ago and that became immediately our Summer favourite.
As it is a traditional recipe every family has its own version and may include additional ingredients. Traditional Southern Italian food was made with simple ingredients and quantities depended on what was available and adjusted to taste. I will respect this origin and will give you the proportions
I know, the vegetable are fried, and it takes a long time to prepare, but the taste is so fantastic that you have to try it, with a nice slice of rustic bread just warmed up under the grill. Superb!

You can serve it cold, and the day after preparation is even better. (refrigerate and take out of fridge 1 hr. before serving).

Can you hear the singing of the cicadas?…
Prepare your picnic basket!

Ingredients for 4 (served as vegetable side) –make more if you want to eat it as a main vegetable dish

4 slices chicken breast
6-8 grains of pepper (6 to 8)
1 shallot
1 clove

2 round eggplants (or 4 long) (black, violet or white) Always prefer fresh vegetables with little seeds
12-15 tomatoes
Half a cup black olives (no pips) Try to find good quality (deli)
Half a cup green olives (no pips)
2 table spoons of capers
2 table spoons almonds, roughly cut in into pieces and slightly browned
1 table spoon balsamic vinegar (or a little bit more to taste)
Vegetable frying oil

 How to:

1)      Wash the eggplants and cut the stems off

     2)      Cut into thick, long  pieces and put them in a colander and salt well.

    3)      Put a weight on them so they lose their bitter water and set aside for at least 1 hr.

    4)      In the meanwhile peel the tomatoes by making a cross cut on the surface skin on the  top and throwing them in hot water for 1 minute. Put them in  a colander, pass them under the cold water and the skin will wrinkle. Tomatoes are now ready to be peeled

5)      Cut them into pieces, discarding most of the seeds, put in colander with a pinch of salt to drain.

  6) Prepare a pot with some water, the shallot, a pinch of salt,  the parsley, the pepper corns and bring it to the boil. At this point add the chicken breast and let it boil until completely cooked. Switch the gas off and let the meat cool in the stock.

    When warm, take meat off and cut it into stripes. Do not throw the stock away, you can use it for a risotto, to cook some pasta or in other preparation. Put it in a container and refrigerate for 1 day or freeze it.


    6)      While the vegetables “rest” cut the almonds and quickly brown them in a small pan or under the grill. Put them in a large bowl

7) Wash the capers under running water until they lose their salt or vinegar (taste them) and put them in the bowl.

8) Roughly cut the olives and add them in the bowl

    9) In a very large pan pour a generous quantity of oil (the oil must cover the eggplants) and bring it to the boil. Mind that the oil must not  smoke! Squeeze the eggplants to take off the bitter liquid, dry them on kitchen paper and put them in the boiling oil until they become soft and golden (10-15 min.).


    10) Drain them and put on kitchen paper and dry them from the oil  as much as you can. Put them with the other ingredients in the bowl.

    11) In the same oil fry the tomatoes and drain them well on new paper.


Put them in the same bowl, add the balsamic vinegar and gently stir to mix. Test it and, if necessary, add salt.

13) Cover with a lid or a cling film and let it cool down.(I prefer to refrigerate it)

14) When serving: I like the cold chicken breast stripes. Anyway if you like them warmer, warm them in a pan with some butter.

     15) You know I like to shape things and make portions, so I got a triangular ring and made shapes. But you can serve it loose as well.


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