Chicken with Spicy Calabrian Chili Olive Oil Salsa Rossa

From Christian Reynoso

Formerly with Zuni Café, San Francisco, CA

chicken dish in a castiron pan


Serves 4

  • 3 lbs chicken, a mix of bone-in/skin-on chicken thighs, legs, breasts or wings
  • salt
  • black pepper, freshly ground
  • 2 Tbsp Corto® La Padella® Saute Oil
  • 3 large garlic cloves
  • 1 small shallot
  • 1 cup ground peeled tomatoes (we like Tomato Magic® for the professional chefs)
  • 1 cinnamon stick, approximately 3 inches long
  • 2 Tbsp water
  • 2 Tbsp capers
  • 2 Tbsp red wine vinegar
  • 3 Tbsp Corto® Agrumato-Method Calabrian Chili Olive Oil, plus more if desired
  • 1/4 cup fresh rosemary leaves
  • 1/4 cup fresh thyme leaves


This chicken with red sauce takes inspiration from the Italian salsa rossa and puttanesca. It's sweetened with tomato, robust and briny with capers and garlic, and spiced with Corto® Agrumato-Method Calabrian Chili Olive Oil and cinnamon. It’s quick and easy enough to be your weeknight meal and grand enough to be a dinner party staple. If you prefer to roast a whole chicken instead of parts, this sauce can be served on the side, too.


Preheat oven to 425° F.

Season the chicken with salt and pepper. Heat a large 12-inch skillet over medium high heat. Add the La Padella®. Once it’s hot, sear the chicken (in batches if needed) skin-side down until crispy and golden, about 6-8 minutes. Flip the chicken pieces over so the skin is facing up and transfer to the oven to finish cooking. Remove when chicken is cooked through and the skin is dark golden brown, about 15-20 minutes.

While chicken is cooking, finely chop the garlic, shallot, rosemary and thyme; set aside separately.

Transfer the pieces of cooked chicken to a serving platter, leaving about 2 Tbsp of chicken fat in the pan (discard any extra). Heat the pan over medium heat and add the garlic and shallot, stirring so they become enveloped in the chicken fat and softened, about 3 minutes.

Next, add ground peeled tomatoes and the cinnamon stick. Gradually add 2 Tbsp of water, one at a time, stirring after each addition so that a thick sauce forms. Add the capers, vinegar, 2 Tbsp Corto® Agrumato-Method Calabrian Chili Olive Oil and herbs, stirring them into the sauce. Then, taste and season with salt and pepper, if desired.

To serve, discard the cinnamon stick and pour the salsa rossa over the chicken. Drizzle with the remaining 1 Tbsp of Corto® Agrumato-Method Calabrian Chili Olive Oil to finish.