Braised chicken with peppers turns Rosh Hashanah into a Roman holiday – Lifotravel

Are you, like me, scratching your head about where the summer has gone? Did your Tomato Girl Summer also get thwarted by exorbitant airfare prices? Do you feel that Rosh Hashanah, which starts on the evening of Sept. 15, has snuck up on you out of nowhere?

While my normal approach to the Jewish New Year is to go big or go home — think brisket or pot roast, alongside the usual chicken soup, potato kugel, a grain salad and a decadent dessert or two — this time I’m planning on something different, something that’s affordable and cooks in a reasonable amount of time; with easy-to-find ingredients and not many of them, either. Bonus points if it can transport me with one bite.

Enter this unassuming braise of chicken with roasted peppers from Leah Koenig’s latest cookbook, “Portico: Cooking and Feasting in Rome’s Jewish Kitchen.” As the title suggests, the recipes hail from the Roman Jewish culinary canon, which is marked by scrappy, humble ingredients with bold flavors.

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At first glance, the dish looks too simple for a celebratory meal, but don’t let it fool you — those ingredients come together in a flavorful and sublime braise.

You start by roasting the peppers in the broiler until they’re charred all over. Then, once the peppers are cool, you slip off their skins, scrape out the seeds, and slice the peppers into long silky strands. (If you’re short on time, Koenig says you can use jarred store-bought peppers, which won’t be quite as lush, but will still deliver good results.)

Then you move on to browning the chicken. You’ll probably need to do this in two batches, even if you have a large Dutch oven. (A splatter guard is your friend here.) Once the chicken is golden, set it aside and saute half of the roasted pepper strips, some garlic and the optional (but recommended) red pepper flakes.

A little wine goes in to deglaze the pan and concentrate all the tasty bits before the canned tomatoes are added with a little salt and pepper. Next, you return the chicken to the pot, gently nestling the pieces in the sauce, cover the pot and braise everything for 45 minutes. By then, the chicken will be tender and the deeply hued slurry of tomatoes and half-melted peppers will turn glossy and aromatic.

A short simmer without a lid thickens the sauce just a touch, and that’s it. With a shower of fresh basil, the chicken and peppers make a striking dish that pairs beautifully with crusty bread for sopping up that velvety sauce.

While Koenig suggests this braise for Shabbat, I think it makes an ideal Rosh Hashanah main course, especially because the start of the Jewish New Year falls on a Friday evening this time.

I know I’m not alone in feeling that it’s difficult to plan for a holiday meal at the end of the workweek. But this luscious dish feels especially doable. In under two hours — even less time if you skip roasting the peppers and go the jarred route — you have a festive main course, that while nontraditional in the context of Rosh Hashanah, will taste comforting and familiar.

My mom likes to say that how you usher in the new year is how you’ll spend it, and she might be onto something. So here’s hoping that the minimalism and ease of this dish will set the tone for the year to come, bringing with it nourishment and peace.

Get the recipe: Chicken With Peppers

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