This rustic dish is as appropriate for entertaining as it is for family meals. The long-cooked peppers develop sweetness and just the right amount of tang for a gutsy sauce. Though the flavors are deep and complex, at its heart this is a simple dish that doesn’t require a lot of fuss. After you’ve spent all those days unpacking boxes and hanging pictures, you want a dish that looks nice and is easy for guests to serve themselves. It’s great with Herbed Lemon Orzo and crusty bread to soak up all the juices.
- 2 chickens (about 3½ pounds each), each cut into 8 serving pieces, rinsed and patted dry
- Salt and freshly ground black pepper, to taste
- 8 tablespoons olive oil
- 2 onions, cut in half lengthwise and slivered
- 4 red bell peppers, stemmed, seeded, and cut into 1-inch strips
- 4 yellow bell peppers, stemmed, seeded, and cut into 1-inch strips
- 2 green bell peppers, stemmed, seeded, and cut into 1-inch strips
- 2 tablespoons minced garlic
- 1 cup dry red wine
- 2 pounds ripe plum tomatoes, peeled, halved lengthwise, seeded, then cut in half crosswise
- 1½ cups torn fresh basil leaves
- 2 teaspoons sugar
- Herbed Lemon Orzo, for serving
- Preheat the oven to 350°F.
- Season the chicken with salt and pepper. Heat 2 tablespoons of the olive oil in a large non-stick skillet over medium-high heat and sauté the chicken pieces, in batches, until browned, about 5 minutes per side. Add up to 2 more tablespoons of oil as necessary. Transfer the chicken to a plate.
- Heat the remaining olive oil in a large flameproof casserole over medium-low heat. Add the onions and bell peppers and cook, stirring, until softened, 7 minutes. Add the garlic and wine and cook until the vegetables are very soft, about 3 minutes more.
- Add the tomatoes, basil, and sugar to the casserole and cook to soften the tomatoes and incorporate the sugar, 2 minutes. Return the chicken to the pot, smothering it in the sauce. Cover, transfer to the oven, and bake until the chicken is tender, 1¼ hours, basting occasionally. Serve with the Herbed Lemon Orzo.