Eunice Power - Outside Catering Company, Waterford, Ireland.

Friday, June 3, 2011

Caponata with chicken

Sample what was on offer at Lismore Opera festival 2011. The theme was Italian as the opera was Don Giovani.

Recipe x 8

For the aubergines:
2 medium aubergines, cut into 2½cm / 1" dice
3 tbsps olive oil

For the tomato sauce:
2 x 400g / 14oz Italian plum tomatoes
3 tbsps olive oil
3 cloves garlic, finely chopped
1 anchovy, rinsed
salt & black pepper

For the vegetables:
3 tbsps olive oil
4 stalks celery, cut into 1cm / ½" dice
1 onion, cut into 1cm / ½" dice
1 red pepper, cut into 1cm / ½" dice
90ml / 3floz white wine vinegar
1½ tbsps caster sugar
1½ tbsps capers, rinsed
2 tsps tomato puree
10 green olives, pitted and rinsed

For the chicken:
Steam six chicken fillets, all to cool and shred

1. Pre-heat the oven to 200°C / 400°F / Gas 6.
2. Sprinkled the diced aubergine with 1 tsp salt and leave to stand in a colander for 10 minutes.  Wash and drain the aubergine then spread it in a single layer on a baking tray.   Drizzle with olive oil and mix well to coat the aubergine evenly with oil.  Bake in the oven until soft and golden, about 20 minutes, shaking the pan once or twice during to keep the aubergine from sticking to the pan.
3. Make the tomato sauce while the aubergines are baking.  Empty the tins of tomatoes into a food processor and process until smooth.  Heat the oil in a large pan (with lid) over medium heat.  Add the garlic and anchovy and cook until the garlic is pale gold and the anchovy has melted in the oil, about 5 minutes.  Add the tomatoes, cover partially with the lid (this helps with splattering) and cook, stirring occasionally, until the tomatoes have reduced down to a thick and concentrated sauce, about 15 minutes.  Add salt and pepper to taste.  Transfer the sauce to a bowl and set aside.
4. Cook the vegetables.  Heat the olive oil in the rinsed out pan over a medium heat.  Add the celery, onion and pepper dice and cook, stirring once or twice, until translucent and tender, but still with a bit of crunch, about 5 minutes. 
5. Add the vinegar and stand well back to avoid an eyeful of vinegar fumes.  Stir in the sugar, tomato puree, capers, olives and the tomato sauce and give the contents of the pan a good stir to combine well.  Allow to bubble steadily for 5 minutes, then reduce the heat to low and add the baked aubergines.  Give the mixture a really good stir to mix the aubergines and chicken well into the sauce and leave to simmer very slowly, stirring once or twice, to allow the flavours to blend, about 10 minutes. 
6. Add salt and pepper to taste, then remove from the heat and leave to cool.  When the salad is cold, check again for seasoning and add a little extra sugar and olive oil if you feel it’s a touch too tart.  
7. Serve at room temperature with plenty of good crusty bead to mop up the gutsy sauce.

Think ahead:  you can make this piquant Sicilian salad up to 3 days in advance - in fact its flavours improve if made a day ahead.  Cool completely before covering and chilling, but for the fullest flavour, return to room temperature before serving.