Chili alla Putanesca

Trust me when I tell you that if I had my balcony window open while this chili was simmering on the burner, I just might have landed me a date!

So the story goes, at least the story I’ve heard, is that the Italian ladies of the night would make a robust and zesty sauce, place it near an open window and the intense aroma would entice male visitors.  Thus, this sauce earned its famous name, Puttanesca, which loosely translates to the ladies of the evening, to put it gently.

Chili is certainly not an Italian dish, but its spicy tomato base along with endless versions makes me think of the Italian Puttanesca sauce or the heated, angry Arribbiata sauce.  So why not take the sauces I’m familiar with and mix up a pot of Italian style chili!

A very key ingredient to the Puttanesca sauce is anchovies.  Leave it out if you absolutely must, but it does add a unique background note to the sauce.  If you’re man enough to eat blazin hot chili, then I so believe you can be man (or lady) enough to handle anchovies!  Which honestly, no one will detect that they are even in the sauce.

hey, where did the capers go??To follow along with the Italian theme, I choose ground chuck and Italian hot sausage as the choice of meat.  Cannellini beans seemed fitting along with Sicilian dried black olives and capers for my naughty but nice version.  (Just realized my capers are not showing in the pics!) Shavings of parmesan cheese topped the chilli gently complimenting the flavors and adding a bit of cooling from the heat.  I did not list salt in the recipe as the anchovies, olives and capers can be salty.  Adjust as necessary; I finished the chili with crushed red pepper sea salt to taste.

Chili alla Putanesca

2 pounds ground chuck

1 1/2 pounds hot Italian sausage, removed from casings

1 large onion, diced

1 large red pepper, diced

1 jalapeno pepper, seeded and diced finely

6 cloves of garlic, minced

1.5 oz anchovy fillets in oil

1 cup red wine

2 28 oz cans whole plum tomatoes, smashed

1 tablespoon dried oregano

1 tablespoon dried basil

1 tablespoon dried cumin

1 tablespoon crushed red pepper

1 tablespoon freshly ground black pepper

 1 cup beef broth

1 tablespoon tomato paste

1 15 oz can Cannellini beans, drained

1 cup black olives, Siciliano dried cured or Kalamata, sliced

1/4 cup capers

Parmesan cheese

In a large stockpot, brown the ground chuck until cooked through.  Remove to drain the fat and set aside.  Brown the sausage, remove to drain and set aside with the ground chuck, leaving about a tablespoon or so of oil in the pan.  Add in the onion,  diced red pepper, jalapeno, anchovies in oil and garlic.  Saute until onions are soft, anchovies have melted down and watching to not burn the garlic.

Pour in the red wine, stirring to scrap up the bottom of the pan.  Allow to reduce slightly.  Return the beef and sausage to the pot.  Add in the crushed tomatoes and juice, spices, beef broth and tomato paste.  Cover slightly and allow to simmer for one hour, stirring every so often.

After an hour, add in the beans, olives and capers.  Allow to simmer 45 minutes longer.  Taste for seasonings and add salt to taste.  Ladle into serving bowls and serve with parmesan shavings.  Makes about 10-12 servings.



38 thoughts on “Chili alla Putanesca

  1. I’m not normally a big chilli eater, but I could get behind this one Linda! It combines some of my favorite pasta flavors into a comforting soup. I’m sure Mr. N would love it too. He is a big chilli eater!

  2. This looks so hearty and DELICIOUS! Soooo, what you’re saying is that I should probably just leave my window open whenever I cook dinner and the men will flock? hahah too funny

  3. Jamie Oliver calls it ‘Working Girls Pasta’ and other I know call it ‘Slut’s Pasta’. I prefer Jamie’s title. What a great looking bowl of chilli and I do hope that next time you make it you leave the window open and then blog about the suitors who turned up on your doorstep xx

    1. I’ve also heard it called “whore pasta”! I see this post has started a whole wave of comments on meeting men! If I get any suitors knocking on my door due to the aromas wafting out of my window, I’ll be sure to let everyone know!!

  4. Linda you hit the jackpot! I love puttanesca sauce and using it as a base for chili is ingenious. Next month is when I usually make a big batch of chili using fresh tomatoes, freezing it all for lunches following mornings spent clearing snow. This year, I’ll be making 2 batches. Yours will be one of them, for sure.
    I don’t tell people I’ve added anchovies to a dish anymore unless I know they don’t have a problem with them. If some do not know of the little fishies, they’ll have no problem with the dish. Tell them there are anchovies and they’ll dislike the same dish. When it come to anchovies, ignorance is bliss. 🙂

    1. I thought you might like this!! I too rarely (never) tell anyone I put in anchovies in dishes. I’ll smile when I watch those extreme haters of anchovies, those that say they would never eat anchovies, dig in and eat my food! I can certainly understand seeing a fillet on top of a pizza would not be favored by the haters, so I’d never be that obvious. Worked into a sauce, especially at the beginning, I don’t think there is any fishy taste. Have a great weekend John!

  5. ‘Puttanesca’, ‘Working Girls’ Pasta’, even ‘Slut’s Pasta’ [I’ve learnt a new one 🙂 !] – you mean a bowl of the above which is surely the ‘Fun Pasta’! – where is the dish and what wine are we serving? And, pray, what isi wrong with poor darling anchovies? 🙂 !

  6. Wow, this is the most inventive dish I’ve seen in a long while! What a great idea to take your Italian roots and create a spin on a dish that could use a little “dressing up”! Especially a Puttanesca version.. I love this as a pasta sauce and I can’t wait to try this one on my family! The kids are older and love anything hearty and spicy!! xx Smidge

  7. Thanks for making me smile as always Linda. I did not have any idea what Putanesca meant nor the story behind the sauce. I love that you shared this and the recipe of course. It looks fantastic and once these dang temps of 102 go away, and fall temps come in, I’ll be whipping up a pot of that delicious looking chili. Love the Cannelini beans you added!

    1. Thanks Geni! Interesting story behind this sauce! I know the temps have been high, I was lucky to have a cool day when I made this. I guess I’m excited to finally have a Fall season!

  8. Now, this is brilliant!! what an amazing idea, never thought of combining chili with putanesca sauce, I just love it! I;m waiting for cooler days and then I will try it, it must be amazing!
    thank you for visiting my blog, I hope we will keep in touch.
    Have a wonderful weekend!

  9. Just made my turkey mole chili last night since we’ve had a cool spell. But I’m loving this puttanesca and all it’s flavors. I need to try this and get out of my usual turkey chili thang. And while I used to be squeamish about anchovies, once I used them in tapenade I realized how important they are to flavoring dishes where they belong…and they melt, which makes it all better! Am bookmarking this one.

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