The sweetness of the peppers, the prosciutto’s smokiness, and the basil’s freshness — expect an explosion of flavors in every serving of Roman-Style Chicken (also known as Pollo alla Romana). No need to travel to Rome to experience this traditional dish!
What is Roman-style chicken?
It’s a classic chicken dish from Rome, typically served during summer.
Roman chicken is a stew with tomatoes and bell peppers — both ingredients are in season during the year’s warm months.
But that’s just for the sweet part of pollo alla Romana. You also have prosciutto for that kick of salt and fresh basil leaves for that light aroma and freshness.
Top it all with a drizzle of creamy balsamic vinegar — Yum!
As I do, you will likely serve Roman chicken all year round.
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- Olive oil – I strongly suggest extra virgin olive oil.
- Bell peppers – I always use a combination of red and yellow bell peppers.
- Basil – you need fresh basil for this Roman chicken recipe.
- Tomatoes – I used cherry tomatoes in this recipe because it was in season.
- Prosciutto – note that you need prosciutto crudo, not prosciutto cotto for making pollo alla romana.
- Tomato paste – just use your favorite brand.
- Chicken – you must keep skin and bones for your Roman chicken.
- Garlic – minced or thinly sliced.
- Onion – thinly sliced.
- Balsamic vinegar – a good, creamy balsamic vinegar is perfect for finishing Roman chicken preparation.
- Seasoning – peperoncino, salt, and ground black pepper.
Start making Roman chicken by preheating the oven to 225°C (435°F).
To roast the bell peppers, place them on a baking tray, and rub half a tablespoon of olive oil on them.
Place in the oven for twenty to twenty-five minutes or until you see their skin turning brown.
Once the peppers have cooled down, peel them, remove the membrane and seeds, and chop them into half-an-inch width.
While the peppers roast, you can continue seasoning the chopped chicken with salt and pepper.
Using a large pan or skillet, pour the remaining olive oil over medium-high heat.
Once the oil is ready, start browning the chicken — leave some space between the chicken pieces.
Remove the chicken and set it aside.
Lower the heat to medium and add garlic and onion; cook for a few minutes until they soften.
Add the prosciutto and mix to combine.
Add the browned chicken back into the pan.
Add salt, pepper, peperoncino, tomato paste, and tomatoes, then mix.
Add torn basil leaves.
Mix, turn the heat back to medium-high, cover the pan with a lid, and bring to a boil.
Adjust flame to medium-low and simmer your Roman chicken until the meat is cooked (about twenty to twenty-five minutes).
Take the pan off the heat and add chopped roasted peppers and balsamic vinegar.
Your Roman chicken is now ready for serving — garnish with more fresh basil leaves, if desired.
- Feel free to grill the peppers directly on the stovetop or outside.
- Do not overcook the bell peppers; there should still be a bit of bite left on them. Ensure you stop cooking them when you see blisters on their skins.
- You can slice the prosciutto differently. I used to cut it thinly since that’s how I usually buy it from the counter, but nowadays, I prefer to chop it into cubes.
- Do not skip the balsamic vinegar at the end. It provides a different kind of ‘sweetness’ to the dish — one that gives pollo alla Romana that distinct taste.
- Other types of tomato. You can use whatever kind of tomatoes you have for making Roman chicken. Try to use fresh ones, though, not canned tomatoes.
- Other types of peppers. Bell peppers are the only types you should use — and you can use any color EXCEPT green bell peppers.
Red, yellow, and orange; all turn sweet when roasted, but not the green ones. The slight bitterness in its flavor will not go well with Roman chicken.
How do I serve Roman-style chicken?
You should always serve Roman chicken with bread.
Crusty or regular bread does not matter as long as it absorbs the sauce, and you can clean your plate with it. 🙂
So, try this Roman chicken recipe, and let me know what you think! 🙂
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Roman Chicken Recipe (Pollo alla Romana)
- 1 kg chicken, rinsed and chopped (about 2 lbs)
- 3 & 1/2 tbsp olive oil
- 1 large red bell pepper, (or two medium)
- 1 large yellow bell pepper, (or two medium)
- 2 cloves garlic, chopped thinly
- 1 small onion, chopped finely
- 3/4 cup prosciutto, cubed
- 2 tbsp tomato paste
- 12 pcs cherry tomatoes, quartered
- 15 pcs fresh basil leaves, torn into halves (plus more for garnish)
- 1 & 1/2 tsp balsamic vinegar
- salt and pepper, to season
- dash peperoncino, (or chili flakes)
Preparing the peppers:
- Preheat oven to 225°C (435°F).
- Place the bell peppers on an ovenproof tray and rub them with 1/2 tablespoon of olive oil.
- Place the tray in the oven for 20 to 25 minutes or until the skin turns dark.
- Once the peppers are cool enough to handle, remove the skin, membrane and seeds and cut them lengthwise, 1/2 inch wide. Set aside.
- While the peppers are in the oven though, you can proceed with the rest of the steps for pollo alla Romana.
Making Roman chicken:
- Season the chopped chicken with salt and pepper — generously.
- Heat remaining olive oil in a large skillet or pan over medium-high heat.
- Once the oil is ready, start browning the chicken. Do this in batches to leave enough space between the pieces of chicken.
- Take the browned chicken out of the pan and set them aside.
- Once you have finished with the chicken, adjust heat to medium. Add garlic and onion.
- Cook until the onion has softened a bit, then add prosciutto and mix.
- Add the chicken back into the pan.
- Add salt, pepper, peperoncino, tomato paste, and tomatoes. Mix to combine.
- Add torn basil leaves and mix.
- Adjust the heat back into medium-high and cover the pan with a lid.
- Bring to a boil. Adjust the heat to medium-low and let your Roman chicken simmer for about 25 minutes, or until the meat is cooked.
- Take the pan out of the heat and add the chopped, roasted peppers.
- Drizzle with the balsamic vinegar and mix to combine.
- Serve your Roman chicken, and add more fresh basil, if preferred.
- Cook’s Tip #1: Use red, yellow, or orange bell peppers, but NEVER green. Its slight bitterness does not go well with Roman chicken.
- Cook’s Tip#2: Instead of roasting, you can grill the peppers directly on the stovetop or an outside grill (especially during summer).
- Cook’s Tip #3: Ensure the peppers are not overcooked. Once added at the end of cooking your Roman chicken, there should still be a bit of bite in them.
- Cook’s Tip #4: You can slice the prosciutto thinly if that’s what you prefer.
- Cook’s Tip #5: Any type of tomato will work, but fresh ones are better than canned for pollo alla Romana.