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Zizzi's Casareccia Pollo Picante Recipe

25 January 2015 13 comments

Comforting pasta, juicy toms, cleansing spinach and grilled chicken all wrapped up in a silky, fiery sauce, Zizzi's Casareccia Pollo Picante is unimaginably simple to create and everything you'd wish for in comfort food. Keep reading for truly the ultimate copycat recipe I managed to obtain from one of their own chefs.

You will need:

- a chicken breast per person
- 1 tsp - 1 tbsp rose harissa paste - it must be Belazu Rose Harissa paste (you can always add more at the end as it doesn't need cooking out so I'd start with less if worried about heat and adjust to your own tastes).
- 50ml double cream
- a punnet of cherry toms (~180g)
- 2 handfuls spinach
- 250g pasta
- enough pasta water to loosen the sauce to your preferred consistency (~50ml or more)

This recipe is incredibly forgiving, no precision needed so please adjust every ingredient to your liking. Meat lover? Add more chicken. Hate spinach? Leave it out. More spice or tomatoes? You get the idea.

The only key is the harissa. Again I reiterate, it has to be Belazu's Rose Harissa paste. Nothing else will do.

Pour your pasta into salted, boiling water. You can find this variety at most large supermarkets but feel free to swap it out for any pasta shape you like.

Season your chicken with sea salt, cracked black pepper and any bottled seasoning you fancy (I used this one today) for extra flavour. Pop into a hot pan with a little olive oil, cook through, remove and slice. (For ultimate authenticity, slap your chicken onto a hot griddle for charred, smokey bar marks.)

For the sauce, add a rounded spoonful (it's fiery stuff!) of the harissa paste into the chicken pan, followed by a good glug of cream, a few tablespoons of starchy pasta water and the tomatoes.

Edit: as my cooking has improved, I've learnt that this sauce is less cream and more pasta water. So many other recipes I've seen douse this dish in cream - I'm sure a tasty dish but less akin to the original. For the ultimate copycat recipe, add around the 50ml mentioned in the ingredients, loosen with pasta water and reduce for flavour.

Add your chicken back to the pan, followed with the spinach. Stir together and simmer for a few minutes. Check for seasoning and piquancy; I like mine quite fiery so a little more harissa, if it needs calming, more cream or pasta water. 

Serve up piping hot with intensely garlic-y ciabatta and a chlorophyll-filled side salad.