Tuesday, July 22, 2008

Chicken Pepperoni

By Paul Briand

There are lots of things we can take away from sitting through a movie: the quality of a particular performance, the story line, the special effects, whether it's funny or scary. But there's one movie from a long time ago that I remember for one thing and one thing only: chicken pepperoni.

The movie was "Seems Like Old Times," a 1980 romantic comedy written by Neil Simon and starring Goldie Hawn, Chevy Chase and Charles Grodin. The chicken pepperoni was served toward the end of the movie, and while I can't remember the context of the meal at all I do remember thinking: "I have to have that recipe." The idea of combining my favorite pizza topping with chicken went to my culinary yin and yang of eating something spicy and a little naughty (the pepperoni) with something that's fairly common on the family dinner table (chicken).

The movie didn't offer a recipe; it was a scene in which the dish was being served. And at the time almost 30 years ago, there wasn't an Internet to be had to search for a chicken pepperoni recipe. Do a search now and you'll find thousands -- 691,000 if you believe the Google search results.

Back in 1980 it was just dumb cluck luck that I stumbled across a chicken pepperoni recipe in the Boston Herald newspaper, courtesy of Joseph Foti, the chef at Florence's restaurant in Boston, winner of a chicken pepperoni cook-off of some kind. Foti has since died but his recipe lives on in my collection of favorites.

Olive oil
Flour for dredging
4 chicken breasts
1/4 pound pepperoni, sliced
1 cup mushrooms, sliced
1/2 onion, chopped
2 red peppers, sliced
1 1/2 ounces chablis or other white wine
Pepper, parsley and oregano
1 cup tomato sauce
2 cans artichoke hearts, quartered
1/2 cup peas

1. If not boned already, bone chicken, remove skin, cut into eight pieces
2. Use cooking mallet to pound breast pieces flat
3. Dredge chicken in flour
4. In heated large skillet with olive oil, brown chicken on both sides and remove
5. In clean skillet with dash of oil, briefly sauté pepperoni, drain oil
6. Add chicken to pepperoni
7. Add onions, peppers and mushrooms and sauté three to four minutes
8. Stir in wine and pepper, parsley and oregano
9. Add tomato sauce and stir
10. Cook for 10 minutes, stirring occasionally
11. Add artichokes and peas, heat through until bubbly and serve

Makes four to six servings.
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