Heather Collura, editor of the Summit Patch, leads a double life. When she's not overseeing her site, she's planning her wedding this coming fall. If you've traveled up the hill to Summit, you might have seen her around town with her fiancee, Rick Burchfield, Patch Associate Regional Editor and Regional Sports Editor in Northern New Jersey. The giant Patch stickers on their computers give them away. Sitting at Cafe Mavi, laptops open, always working. It's just so darn cute, but they work hard, and Heather has thrown herself into planning her wedding with that same gusto.
So, what's a girl to do when she's busy working all the time? Slow down and eat a good meal! It's not just Heather running around all day, we're all busy. With a little planning, getting a home-cooked dinner on the table is just the thing to share with our loved ones and recharge our own batteries, too.
Skillet Chicken Italiano is one of those recipes that's been a favorite of Heather's since her days at Syracuse University. The origin's a little sketchy, but her roommate Liz, ironically a vegetarian, started making this chicken dish and everyone loved it. This no-name recipe originated as chicken with mushrooms, but no one liked those, so she used green olives instead. Added to that were peppers, tomatoes, a dash of white wine and a little heavy cream. Over the years it's become a signature dish of Heather's and a family favorite. Rick loves it, too and what a relief. They both work at Patch and they love the same chicken dish. A match made in heaven.
So, given the list of ingredients, I named the dish Skillet Chicken Italiano. With ingredients right out of an Italian market and as an homage to Heather's Italian heritage, it seemed like an obvious choice. The chicken, when cut into small pieces and sauteed in a skillet, makes for a quick meal. Adding the rest of the ingredients in the same skillet makes it easy. While fitting into that wedding dress never eludes our health conscious bride, whole wheat capellini is perfect to balance out the dinner.
Homemade recipes like this one always tell a story. Let's keep this story going by posting a comment on the home page congratulating Heather and Rick. You can add yours right after mine. All the best, you two!
Skillet Chicken Italiano
Prep time: 15 minutes
Cooking time: 30 minutes
3 tablespoons olive oil
2 tablespoons unsalted butter
2 pounds chicken breasts(about 4), cut into 2-inch cubes
1 medium onion, chopped
1 green pepper, seeded and chopped
1 red pepper, seeded and chopped
2 garlic cloves, minced
2-3 plum tomatoes, seeded and chopped
1/2 cup good quality white wine (preferably Italian)
1/2 cup heavy cream
1 cup pitted green olives
Salt and pepper to taste
1/2 pound capellini pasta, preferably whole wheat, cooked
In a large skillet over medium/ high heat, combine butter and oil until hot. Add chicken making sure the pieces don't over lap. Cook undisturbed 2-3 minutes. Sprinkle with salt and pepper, flip over and cook another 2-3 minutes. When chicken is golden brown, remove and set aside.
In same skillet over medium heat, add onion and peppers. Cook 5 minutes to soften. Add garlic and tomatoes and cook another 5 minutes. Add white wine, bring to a boil, add chicken, reduce to a simmer and cover. Simmer chicken/veggie mixture 15 minutes.
Add heavy cream and olives and continue to cook until everything is incorporated and heated through (do not bring to a boil). Season to taste with salt and pepper. Serve over cooked capellini.
Amy Currie is a mother of three and teacher at the Kings Cooking Studio in Short Hills. She is the author of "Memoirs of a Home Cook," "Every Great Recipe Has a Story" and her latest cookbook, "Secrets of a Home Cook." You can e-mail her at email@example.com. She writes a weekly column for the Summit Patch.