Chicken with Olives and Pine Nuts
by Victoria Challancin
You can't go wrong with Italian chef and cookbook author Lidia Bastianich's recipes. Ever. They never disappoint. And this comforting recipe for a simple pan-sautéed chicken with olives and pine nuts really delivers--it is easy to prepare, enticing to look at, and utterly flavorful.
The recipe, according to Chef Lidia, hales from Le Marche region of Italy. In the version found on her website, the chef suggests using the big fat Ascoclane olives which come from the region, but also allows, as they are not easy to find in the United States, that other brine-cured Italian olives work fine. I had to settle for Spanish ones, but they, too, were delicious in this dish. While I chose breasts and legs out of family preference, Lidia states that a whole cut-up bird or even just breast pieces can be used, though with the white-meat only version you might want to cut back on the oil and butter as breast meat cooks faster (10 minutes of browning and then 10 minutes with the olives). The recipe originally appeared in the 2009 cookbook, Lidia Cooks from the Heart of Italy: A Feast of 175 Regional Recipes.
Serve with a salad and crusty bread for sopping up the tasty sauce. If you want a fuller menu, try starting with the Creamy Tuscan Bean Soup I made last week.
Lidia’s Chicken with Olives and Pine Nuts
Pollo con Olive e Pignoli
(Recipe by Lidia Bastianich)
3½ to 4 pounds assorted cut up chicken pieces
1 teaspoon kosher salt
2 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil
2 tablespoons butter
3 plump garlic cloves, peeled
2 bay leaves, preferably fresh
1 cup brine- cured green Italian olives or oil- cured black Italian olives
½ cup white wine
¼ cup toasted pine nuts
Rinse the chicken pieces, and pat dry with paper towels. Trim off excess skin and all visible fat. Cut drumsticks off the thighs; cut breast halves into two pieces each. Season the chicken all over with
the salt. Put the olive oil and butter in the pan, and set over medium- low heat. When the butter is
melted and hot, lay in the chicken pieces, skin side down, in a single layer; drop the garlic cloves
and bay leaves in the spaces between them. Cover the pan, and let the chicken cook over gentle
heat, browning slowly and releasing its fat and juices. After about 10 minutes, uncover the pan,
turn the pieces, and move them around the pan to cook evenly, then replace the cover. Turn again
in 10 minutes or so, and continue cooking covered. While the chicken is browning, pit the olives
(if they still have pits in them). If you’re using small olives like Castelvetrano, use a pitter and keep
them whole. If you have larger olives (such as Ascolane or Cerignola), smash them with the blade
of a chef’s knife to remove the pits, and break them into coarse chunks.
After the chicken has cooked for 30 minutes, scatter the olives onto the pan bottom, around the
chicken, and pour in the wine. Raise the heat so the liquid is bubbling, cover, and cook, gradually concentrating the
juices, for about 5 minutes. Remove the lid, and cook uncovered, evaporating the pan juices,
occasionally turning the chicken pieces and olives. If there is a lot of fat in the bottom of the pan,
tilt the skillet and spoon off the fat from one side. Scatter the pine nuts around the chicken, and
continue cooking uncovered, turning the chicken over gently until the pan juices thicken and coat
the meat like a glaze.
Turn off the heat, and serve the chicken right from the skillet, or heap the pieces on a platter or in a
shallow serving bowl. Spoon out any sauce and pine nuts left in the pan, and drizzle over the
Hydrangeas in a Paris market--I thought that after a week of hydrangea bashing, these lovely blooms deserved some positive notice
©Victoria Challancin. All Rights Reserved.