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.
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
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.
I love being in the kitchen. Early mornings, soft music, a hot espresso. Easing into the preparation of delicious meals. Glancing through cookbooks, gathering inspiration and planning my day. I look forward to the cycles of the seasons, the pleasures of tasting and savoring and sharing this with those dear to me. Weekends are special to me as my week days are often rushed, but still I create the ambiance, light the candles, set the table and uncork the wine.