Saturday, June 23, 2012

Chicken with Castelvetrano Olives, Lemon, and Tomato

This Chicken with olives, lemon, tomatoes, and onions was absolutely heavenly. The original recipe is called "Chicken That Fancies Itself Spanish With Lemons, Onions, and Olives" and I found it on a wonderful blog called Food 52. I figured if Nate can be in Spain enjoying the food, I could try to make some Spanish-style cuisine for myself! 

I made some alterations to the recipe to make it a little healthier, and as usual you can play around with the ingredients until you get something you like (for instance, the olives aren't entirely necessary if you don't like them).

This is a perfect fall and winter recipe, but the tart lemon makes it taste fresh enough that it's suitable for the warmer months too.

Chicken with Castelvetrano Olives, Lemon, and Tomato

 Prepare all of your ingredients ahead of time, because once you start cooking, you won't really be able to stop!

You'll need to pit the olives. Good luck!
Friendly tip: BUY PITTED OLIVES. I learned this the hard way.
 You'll need lemon zest for the stew, and grated cheese for the breading on the chicken. I used Manchego, though any hard cheese would really be fine.

You will need 6 peeled, roughly chopped cloves of garlic, 1 large yellow onion cut into hearty slices, about 3/4 c pitted olives, the zest of 1 lemon, the juice of two lemons, 1 cup of white wine, 1 can of diced tomatoes, and 1 bay leaf.
My mother gave me some saffron, which you can see soaking in the wine...
The original recipe called for a whole 4 pound chicken, cut into pieces, but I just used 2 lbs of chicken thighs.You could leave the skin on if you aren't watching your diet, and I am sure it would be DELICIOUS! However, I chose to remove the skin — it's really easy to do with chicken thighs.

Pat the thighs dry after you removed the skin. Add 3/4 cup whole wheat flour, 1 T paprika, and 1/4 c grated Manchego to a plastic bag. Season the chicken with salt and pepper, then place in bag and shake until completely covered in a light coating of the flour mixture. You will need to do this in batches.

While you are doing this, heat about 3 T olive oil in a large pot or Dutch oven over medium high heat. After coating the chicken, add it to the pan in batches, making sure both sides get well browned. Again, do this in batches. If you overcrowd the pan the chicken will start to steam and won't get crispy. This is especially important if you are using skinless chicken.
Juicy, crispy chicken.
Remove chicken from the pan and set aside. Add the sliced onions, garlic, olives, lemon juice, and bay leaf to the pan, scraping up any brown bits with a wooden spoon.
Once the sun goes down, so does the quality of my photography. Need better lighting!!
Add about 1/2 T of smoked paprika and just a pinch of cinnamon. Season with salt and pepper.

Cook until the vegetables are getting soft and the lemon juice has reduced by half. Then add the can of tomatoes and the cup of wine.

As I mentioned, my darling mother recently gifted me some saffron. I used but three threads of saffron for this dish, soaking them in the wine before adding to the dish. Apparently this helps release the flavor. The taste was subtle and the spice gave off a honey-like aroma, though it tasted quite bitter on its own before it was added to the dish. If you have some on hand I would definitely use it, as it added a nice layer of complexity to the broth.

Now bring this mixture to a boil, then add the chicken back in.

Cover it, and place in a 425 degree oven. Cook for about 30 minutes, or until the chicken is cooked through.

Serve with plenty of the delicious broth, and garnish with cilantro.
Blurry but delicious. 

Full Recipe
Chicken with Castelvetrano Olives, Lemon, and Tomato

About 2 lbs bone-in chicken thighs, skinned
3/4 c whole wheat flour
1/4 c grated Manchego cheese
1 T paprika
Salt and Pepper

1 large yellow onion, cut into hearty slices
6 cloves of garlic, chopped
2 lemons, juiced
zest of 1 lemon
3 threads of saffron, soaked in:
1 cup of dry white wine (such as sauvignon blanc)
1 can diced tomatoes
1/2 T paprika
1 pinch cinnamon
1 bay leaf
Salt and Pepper
Cilantro, for garnish

Preheat oven to 425°

Pat the chicken dry and season with salt and pepper. Combine flour, paprika, and grated cheese. Dredge chicken in flour mixture until thoroughly coated, or add to bag and shake to coat. 

Heat about 3 T of olive oil in a large pot or Dutch oven over medium high heat. Brown chicken in batches, then set aside. 

Add onion, garlic, olives, lemon juice, bay leaf, and cinnamon to the pan. (Note: the dish is quite acidic. If you aren't overly fond of the tart lemon flavor, use the juice of only 1 lemon and an equal amount of chicken broth). Make sure to scrape up any browned bits from the bottom of the pan. Season with salt and pepper.

Cook until onions are soft and liquid has reduced by half. Add wine and tomatoes, bring to a boil. Add chicken to pan, cover, and place in oven. Cook 30 minutes or until chicken is cooked through.

Garnish with cilantro. 

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