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5 from 2 votes

Chicken Puttanesca

Not all recipes start as a fairy tale (unless, of course, that particular fairy tale is "Pretty Woman"). Some historic or traditional recipes exist out of necessity, be it for speed, available ingredients, perseveration, the masking of rotten flavors, tenderizing, etc.

Pollo alla Puttanesca literally means, "Whore's Style Chicken". It's essentially just chicken with "Sugo alla Puttanesca" (Whoreish Sauce); a sauce draped over the top of it. The sauce is a mixture of tomatoes, olives, capers, anchovies, garlic and chili flakes. If you're a bit squeamish of the anchovies ... bacon bits will do in a pinch!

Over the years, I've heard MANY stories about the origin of the name, ranging from being named for the aroma of Italy's "ladies of the evening" to it being an accumulation of leftovers that would collect, to being something that the prostitutes would quickly assemble between appointments. There are also tales of this being something tossed on the ladies of pleasure as they walked through the night time alleys, shouting "puttana, puttana!"

There are also stories of it being a relatively new recipe, with written examples of it only going back about 50 years! There are those that believe it's a name twisted from the word "puttana", which today means "prostitute" in Italian, but its origin lies in the latin "putus", meaning "boy". From this etymology comes the word "puttanesco", meaning "lower than" ... as in "boyish, girlish, whoreish, etc." It implies a lower status, while not necessarily meaning "prostitute". It could be interpreted, then, that the name simply means a sauce made from humble ingredients.

Whatever the case ... whatever the origin ... it is, no doubt, a tasty dish!

Preparation Note: This recipe goes quickly, so have everything chopped and ready to go, before you even start heating the pan.

Photo Note: Served over a bed of zoodles.
Prep Time10 mins
Cook Time20 mins
Total Time30 mins
Servings: 4 Servings
Calories: 386.2275kcal
Author: DJ Foodie


  • 1/4 cup extra virgin olive oil divided
  • 4 each boneless chicken breasts (skin optional)
  • 4 each garlic cloves minced
  • 1 small red onion diced
  • 1/2 cup assorted italian olives pitted and very coarsely chopped
  • 1 tbsp capers drained and coarsely chopped
  • 4 each boneless anchovy filets coarsely chopped
  • 1/2 tsp crushed red chili flakes
  • 1 lb assorted fresh tomatoes diced
  • salt and fresh cracked pepper to taste


  • Pre-heat oven to 450 F.
  • Pre-heat a large oven proof sauté or skillet over high heat.
  • Coat the chicken breasts with 2 tablespoons of oil and season both sides of them with salt and pepper.
  • Place the chicken breast in the hot pan and sear them. When one side is nice and golden brown (about 2 minutes), turn them over and place the entire pan in the oven. Let the roast in the oven for about 6 to 8 minutes.
  • When the breasts are firm to the touch, remove the pan and place it on a hot burner on the stove. Quickly remove the chicken breasts from the pan and place them on plates.
  • Add your remaining oil, garlic, onions, anchovies, olives, capers and chili flakes to the pan. This will likely cook QUICKLY. You want to lightly fry these ingredients in the oil, for about 1 minute.
  • Add the tomatoes to the pan, with a bit of salt and pepper. Still over high heat, cook the sauce until the tomatoes are just cooked and the sauce is thick, about 2 more minutes.
  • Divide the sauce between the chicken breasts and serve!


Serving: 4g | Calories: 386.2275kcal | Carbohydrates: 9.46g | Protein: 38.5975g | Fat: 20.5125g | Fiber: 2.55g