chicken with olives and mushrooms

Posted: December 10, 2013 in Italian
Tags: , , , , , ,

I had olives whole for the first time when I was 20 years old, in a small bistro in Paris, over red wine. Before then, I avoided them: I picked them out of pizza, I pushed them to the other side of the table at dinner, and I passed over them in the grocery aisle. Why would anyone want to try anything that salty? In the darkness of a French bistro, however, as I sipped my glass of Merlot in my black turtleneck, nothing seemed more appropriate than to pop a green olive in my mouth and suck on it like a Ricola. I think I still thought it was gross at the time, but olives seemed to fit my new french persona, so I just swirled the wine around my mouth to mask the saltiness. It worked. Today, there are few foods that make me feel as sexy and sophisticated as olives do.

I’ll admit, though, that I made the following recipe less because I felt like having olives for dinner, but because I wanted to try out my new cast iron skillet. (The skillet passed the test). This recipe, taken of course from Smitten Kitchen, is surprising: something about the grapes not only balances the olives, but also mutes their saltiness that most people hate so much about them. Paired with red wine and risotto, this recipe was worth dressing up in a cute black sweater dress — even if you’re just at home and no one’s coming over for dinner.


  • 3 pounds (1 1/3 kg) chicken parts (thighs, drumsticks, and/or breasts), with skin and bones
  • Table salt
  • Freshly ground black pepper
  • 1 tablespoon olive oil
  • 1 cup (90 grams) seedless grapes
  • 1 cup (130 grams) pitted Kalamata olives
  • 2 small shallots, thinly sliced
  • 1/2 cup (120 ml) dry white wine
  • 1/2 cup (120 ml) chicken broth
  • 1 tablespoon finely chopped fresh rosemary
  1. Preheat your oven to 450 degrees with a rack in middle. Pat chicken dry, and season generously with salt and freshly ground black pepper. Heat oil

    in an ovenproof 12-inch heavy skillet (use a cast-iron skillet if you’ve got one) over medium- high heat until it shimmers. Working in two batches, brown the chicken, skin side down first and turning them over once, about 5 minutes per batch. I like to take a lot of care in this step, not moving the chicken until the skin releases itself and has a nice bronze on it.

  2. Return the pieces to the pan, skin side up, and surround the pieces with grapes, olives, and shallots. Roast the chicken in the oven until it has just cooked through and the juices run clear, about 20 minutes. Transfer the chicken, grapes, and olives to a platter, then add wine and chicken broth to the pan juices in skillet. Bring liquid to a boil, scraping up any brown bits, until it has reduced by half, for 2 to 3 minutes. Strain sauce, if desired, then pour it over the chicken. Garnish with rosemary and see how long it takes guests to offer to slurp the sauce up with a spoon.

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