The Zach and Cilantro Saga – Part III: Campanelle all’Arrabbiata Rustica con Pollo all’Aglio

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Do not be afraid of this dish. I went with an Italian title because it just seemed fitting (and it is not too long ago that I could actually converse in Italian). The name just flows and sounds very elegant but in fact the dish is designed to be somewhat rustic and untraditional. The untraditional and rustic nature comes from the fact that I made this up on a whim and went mostly with the ingredients that I found in the pantry (it is good that I did not find a can of Alpo in there since that could have entered into play . . . just kidding of course). Anyway, the basic components of the dish are simple: Pasta and Chicken. However, the preparation of the sauce and marinade for the chicken create complex and unique flavors. The recipe is designed to have a kick so do not hesitate to reduce the spice if you are afraid of the heat.





If I were to have given this dish an English title, it would have been “Little bells in a spicy rustic sauce with garlic chicken”. Now, please agree with me that “Campanelle all’Arrabbiata Rustica con Pollo all’Aglio” sounds a thousand times better? The translation is simple. Campanelle means “little bells” and all’arrabbiata rustica means something like “in an angry, rustic style”. The angry part is the fact that the sauce has a kick to it and is rather spicy. Small side note, I was at an Italian restaurant in Scottsdale, Arizona a few years ago where they ask you how spicy you want the arrabbiata on a scale of 1 to 10. Then we have con, or “with”, followed by pollo all’aglio, or chicken with garlic. While not important to this recipe, one thing that you see a lot on Italian restaurant menus is the use of the phrase “al forno”. This just means that the dish is prepared in the oven. So, for example, “Pollo al Forno” is chicken prepared in the oven! And that is your Italian lesson for the day. So, next time you are at a fancy Italian restaurant you can sound sophisticated.

This dish is going to be super simple to modify to your liking too. If you want less heat, add just a half tablespoon of crushed red pepper flakes. If you want the sauce to be sweeter, add a small can of tomato sauce. If you want it creamier, add some heavy cream before serving. The possibilities are absolutely endless. This is the beauty of sauces . . . you can do just about anything that your mind can conjure up.

To fit with the general theme of everything Italian, why not pair this pasta dish with an Italian beer? Now before everyone throws a hissy fit, this does not mean that one should drink Peroni, Nastro Azzurro (translation: Blue Ribbon), or any other inexpensive Italian brew that tastes like . . . well, you fill in the blank. Instead, I propose a beer called Super from Baladin in Rome. Believe it or not, this beer has been floating around good beer stores in the states for a few years now. The price tag is a bit steep but the quality is outstanding. The fruit notes in this Abbey-style ale help balance the spice in the arrabbiata sauce. If you cannot find Baladin’s products, a quality golden Abbey-style ale will do the trick here. But, like I said, if you can find the Super, snag a bottle or two. It is fantastic.










Campanelle all''Arrabbiata Rustica con Pollo all''Aglio
Prep Time
1 hr, 30 min
Cook Time
1 hr
Total Time
2 hr, 30 min

Campanelle all''Arrabbiata Rustica con Pollo all''Aglio

Italian for "little bells", campanelle are perfect for this somewhat untraditional rustic arrabbiata-style pasta sauce. The pasta it topped with moist and succulent garlic marinated chicken. Please do not hesitate to adjust the heat as necessary for your liking.


    For the Chicken (Pollo all''Aglio)
  • 4 boneless, skinless chicken thighs
  • 1/2 cup extra virgin olive oil
  • 3 tablespoons white wine vinegar
  • 1 teaspoon salt
  • 1 teaspoon black pepper (freshly ground)
  • 6 cloves garlic (diced)
  • For the Pasta and Spicy Sauce (Campanelle all''Arrabbiata Rustica)
  • 1 pound pasta (Campanelle or similar)
  • 2 tablespoons olive oil
  • 1 shallot (diced)
  • 1 large yellow onion (diced)
  • 2 red bell peppers (diced)
  • 1 teaspoon salt
  • 1 teaspoon black pepper (freshly ground)
  • 6 cloves garlic (minced)
  • 1 tablespoon dried basil
  • 1 tablespoon crushed red pepper flakes
  • 1/2 teaspoon ground cayenne
  • 1 28-ounce can whole tomatoes
  • 1 tablespoon granulated sugar
  • 1 cup parmesan cheese (grated)


  • Begin by preparing the marinade for the chicken. Combine all of the ingredients in a sturdy resealable bag and close being careful to remove as much air as possible. Using your hands, distribute the marinade evenly on the chicken in the bag. Place in the refrigerator.
  • Meanwhile, prepare the sauce. In a dutch oven on medium heat, add the olive oil, shallot, onion, red bell pepper, salt and pepper. Cook for 10-15 minutes or until they start to change color. Add the garlic and continue to cook for 1-2 more minutes. Add the spices and stir for 30 seconds or until the spices become aromatic.
  • Next, add the can of tomatoes to the sauce and stir to combine. Bring the sauce to a simmer, cover, stirring occasionally, and cook for 1 hour. Remove the lid, add the sugar, and continue to cook for 10--15 minutes or until the sauce starts to thicken.
  • Add the sauce to a blender and blend for 1-2 minutes. The sauce should not be fairly smooth. Transfer the sauce back to the dutch over and keep warm.
  • Bring a large stock pot of water to boil and cook the pasta as per the package''s directions. Drain the water and immediately place the pasta in the sauce. Stir the pasta until the sauce is evenly distributed.
  • To prepare the chicken (while the water is coming to a boil), place the breasts on a preheated grill set to medium. Turn the chicken occasionally so that they do not burn. Once the chicken is cooked thoroughly, remove the chicken and let sit for 5 minutes before cutting into strips.
  • To plate, place a sliced chicken thigh on a bed of pasta and top with freshly grated parmesan cheese.


Hardware: Stock Pot * Grill * Dutch Oven * Blender * Knives

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