Pollo alla Potentina

Chicken With Tomato Sauce, Hot Pepper, and Pancetta

This recipe originates in the region of Basilicata, and we can see from its name that it is very popular in Potenza. It is usually prepared with pieces of bone-in chicken, but we find that for our format it is easier and faster to cook boneless chicken breasts. So forgive us this liberty. You may cook this with chicken parts as well, but you’ll have to increase the cooking time.


  • ½ cup plus 2 tablespoons olive oil
  • ¾ cup diced (½ inch) pancetta
  • 4 whole boneless, skinless chicken breasts, split and cut into 2-inch pieces
  • 2 cups diced onions
  • 2 teaspoons (or to taste) dried red pepper flakes
  • 1 cup dry white wine
  • cups Tomato Sauce
  • ½ cup basil chiffonade
  • ¼ cup finely chopped fresh parsley
  • Salt and freshly ground pepper


Heat 2 tablespoons olive oil in a small sauté pan over medium heat. Add the pancetta and cook until tender but not brown and most of the fat is rendered, about 10 minutes. Remove the pancetta from the pan and reserve the fat.

Heat ½ cup oil in 2 large sauté pans over very high heat. Add the chicken pieces and cook until lightly browned on all sides but still rare in the center, about 4 minutes. Remove the chicken from the pan and set aside.

Return the pancetta fat to the pan and heat over medium heat. Add the onion and cook until nearly tender, 8 to 10 minutes. Add the pepper flakes and cook 1 minute to release their heat. Stir in the pancetta and wine; cook until the liquid is slightly reduced, about 5 minutes. Stir in the tomato sauce and add the chicken; simmer until the chicken is cooked through, 3 to 4 minutes. Add the basil and parsley for the last 2 minutes cooking time. Season with salt and pepper to taste and serve hot.