I often seek out recipes from Martha Rose Shulman, food columnist at the New York Times, because she is an expert at adapting traditional recipes into more healthy fare. Here she offers a pepper-packed classic French dish, poulet Basquaise, aka chicken and pepper stew. Chicken thighs are simmered in a “pipérade,” which is French for a combination of onion, bell peppers and tomatoes. French cooks often add ham to their piperade, but this version is lighter and fresher tasting with just a hint of heat from Anaheim chile peppers, not traditional but an excellent addition.
Martha likes to use both sweet bell peppers and Anaheim chiles, which resemble long, skinny bell peppers and carry a bit of heat but not as much as a jalapeño. I found them near the bell peppers in the produce department; if they aren’t available you can use crushed red pepper flakes to establish the amount of heat you like. Don’t be afraid of using Anaheims if you can find them. They aren’t really hot.
Martha suggests pulsing canned diced tomatoes in a food processor, which is a lovely idea if you’re into washing lots of dishes. I used a 28-oz. can of crushed tomatoes instead; because they’re a bit thicker than diced tomatoes, I added about 1/4 cup of white wine before simmering the stew. I’m confident that you can use diced tomatoes without putting them in the food processor. This dish is highly adaptable. Serve your stew in pasta bowls with a half-cup of rice or pasta to sop up the very tasty, slightly spicy sauce. Leftovers? Even better the next day. Time works wonders with braised dishes.
8 skinless and boneless chicken thighs
Salt and freshly ground pepper
2 Tbsp. extra virgin olive oil
1 large onion, cut in half lengthwise and then sliced across the grain
4 large mixed green and red bell peppers, cored, seeded and thinly sliced
2 mildly hot chilies, like Anaheim or New Mexico chilies, cored, seeded and cut in very thin strips, or 1/4 to 1/2 teaspoon crushed red pepper flakes (optional)
3 to 4 garlic cloves, thinly sliced
1 28-ounce can chopped tomatoes with juice, pulsed in a food processor
Pinch of sugar
Rinse the chicken pieces and pat dry. Season with salt and pepper. Heat 1 Tbsp. olive oil in a large, nonstick skillet over medium-high heat, and brown the chicken pieces on each side for about 5 minutes. Transfer to a plate. Pour off any fat from the pan and discard.
Turn the heat down and add the remaining 1 Tbsp. olive oil and the onion with a pinch of salt. Cook, stirring until the onions begin to soften, about 5 minutes. Add the sweet and hot peppers, the garlic and a pinch of salt and cook, stirring, until the peppers begin to soften, about 5 minutes. Add the tomatoes and sugar and stir together until the tomatoes begin to bubble, about 5 minutes.
Return the chicken pieces to the pan. Cover and cook about 25 minutes over medium-low heat, stirring at regular intervals and turning the chicken pieces over so that the chicken cooks evenly. The peppers should be very soft and the chicken tender. Add freshly ground pepper, taste and adjust the salt, and serve.
WW SmartPoints per serving (2 thighs with sauce): 7