I cannot take credit for this recipe or the brilliant flavour profile that was created; however, I’m happy to share. All credit goes to Joanne, author of her own blog, NYC Fit Food and Fashion! Her own recipe of Chicken with Olives, Rosemary and Pancetta can be found here.
Those that know me, though, know that I am not one to follow many foot worn paths and so, as I’m wont to do, I took her recipe and made it my own … as I hope most readers do when reading my own recipes. Indeed, recipes are maps to hidden places to be discovered … but they aren’t the journey itself.
In reading Joanne’s recipe, what I saw was coq au vin … Tuscan style. (And no, Babblefish wasn’t involved nor can it be blamed for any errors in translation). Coq au vin is one of my very favourite dishes … because it is comfort food at its core. It’s also a cooler-weather dish. There isn’t anything very complicated about coq au vin: it’s chicken stewed in a mirepoix, bacon, and wine. A mirepoix is a classic French combination of root veggies (onion, carrots, and celery) whose blended and earthy flavours form the essential backbone of so many French dishes. And it’s a classic trinity in cooking for a very very good reason.
While on paper, Joanne’s dish looked amazing, the recipe did one thing I wouldn’t have done: it removed the meat from the bones. The result is a faster cooking process and neater and more even presentation … and an easier dish to eat. However, lost in this method is the richness of the chicken flavour that would come from all those bones simmering away in the sauce for 30 minutes.
As such, what I did to the recipe is complete mirepoix for a fuller flavour (i.e. I added in carrots and celery) and adjusted the cooking method to accommodate the fact that I intended to cook the chicken on the bone.
What makes this dish really rock is that on top of the depth of flavour that comes with the mirepoix and the bones there is Joanne’s perfect choice of ingredients and, in particular, her choice to add the kalamata olives and anchovies. And don’t be squeamish by either — you won’t taste the anchovies but their salt along with the olives brings this dish home and will instantly make it a classic in your home as it is now in mine. Move over coq au vin … Tuscan chicken has arrived!
Prep time: 15 hour
Cook time: 45 minutes
Total time: 60 minutes
Tuscan Chicken with Olives and Bacon … and Wine
- 3 pounds bone-in chicken thighs and/or breasts (8-10 pieces)
→ skin on is optional
- 1/4 lb (110 gr) naturally cured lean bacon or pancetta, cubed
- olive oil for frying
- 1/2 cup red onion, chopped
- 1 large carrot, chopped
- 1 stalk of celery, chopped
- 1½ teaspoons fresh rosemary, finely chopped
- 2 garlic cloves, minced
- 3/4 cup dry white wine, divided
- 1/2 cup pitted kalamata olives, sliced
- 2 anchovy fillets in oil, finely chopped
- 1½ teaspoons balsamic vinegar
- fresh ground pepper, to taste
- sprigs of rosemary, garnish
- Wash and dry the chicken. Season with salt and pepper and let stand.
→ You may want to remove the skin from outside of the thighs and breasts. The skin will provide more moisture (in the form of fat) to the chicken … but the downside is that even in frying it and making it crisp, when the chicken braises, it will nevertheless get ‘soggy.’
- Place a large dutch oven or a large pan (that has a lid) over medium-high heat. If frying the chicken with skin-on, use 1 tablespoon of oil. If frying without skin, use about 3 tablespoons of oil. Place the chicken skin-side down and fry for about 5 minutes, until the skin is crispy and brown. Careful of the splatter, turn the chicken and lightly brown the underside for another 5 minutes. Remove to a plate and let stand.
→ Discard any excess oil and fat that remains in the pan leaving only 1 tablespoon.
- While chicken is browning, do all your prep: chop up the bacon, onion, carrot, and celery and set aside. Similarly, prepare finely chop the garlic and rosemary. Slice the olives (into thirds is about the right thickness) and finely chop the anchovies.
- Over medium-high, reheat the pan used to fry the chicken and the residual oil. Add the bacon and fry for 1 minute until oil in bacon starts to ‘melt.’ Add the mirepoix (chopped carrots, celery, and onion) to the pan and fry for about 5 minutes or until the bacon has cooked and the veggies are showing slight caramelization.
- Add the rosemary and garlic and saute for 1 more minute then add anchovies and olives.
- Add 1/4 cup of wine to the pan and deglaze. Then add remaining 1/2 cup of wine plus the balsamic and stir everything together. Add browned chicken on top of the mixture and cover with lid. Cook for about 20 minutes over medium-low heat (just enough to keep everything simmering well), turning after 10 minutes.
- After 20 minutes, check chicken for doneness. Juices should run completely clear and internal temperature of chicken should be 165-170ºF. Remove from heat; turn chicken again; cover and let stand for 5 minute while you prepare your plates and sides.
- Serve one piece of chicken per person, being sure to spoon a healthy spoonful of olives and veggies and the rich sauce over each piece. Garnish with sprig of rosemary and enjoy.Note: I served this dish with Lemon Risotto with Tuscan Kale.