Saturday, April 17, 2010

Sauteed Chicken with Green Olives and White Wine

Let me begin by telling you that this is probably one of the best chicken dishes I have ever made, and one that I can absolutely guarantee I will be making again many times over.  This dish has plenty of flavour, colour, texture;  it's a doddle to make in a very short period of time;  requires minimal preparation;  and would be a great dish to make for a crowd.

So let me tell you how I happily stumbled on this one.  At I Heart Cooking Clubs we continue cooking up a storm with Mark Bittman, and our theme for the week was Pantry Raid.  The challenge - to use up a few of those ingredients languishing on the pantry shelf - what a happy project for me.  There is always plenty to choose from on my pantry shelves - I buy pantry items like most other women buy shoes and handbags (though I have been known to indulge in a few of those as well).  I go away on holiday and come back with bags full of food - I could well be the Imelda Marcos of the pantry.

But I digress, back to the challenge.  This was great timing.  Saturday afternoon I usually like to go to the Mediterranean Food Warehouse to stock up on a few necessities - okay so it's questionable whether or not roasted artichoke hearts and pomegranate molasses are actual "necessities", but in my world they're positively essential!  So mid-week was the perfect time to check the pantry shelves to see what I needed, and what could be used up on this challenge.

My search uncovered 1/3rd of a jar of green olives - great I wanted to use those up, so I could get some of those gorgeous looking Sicilian green olives I'd noticed last week.  An almost finished jar of balsamic vinegar - would be good to use that up too and get a new jar.  Also noticed a small handful of walnuts - I always buy those in very small quantities and don't like to keep them hanging around too long.

So, next step, a search through some of Mark Bittman's recipes to see what I could come up with that needed green olives, balsamic vinegar and walnuts.  I expected to find some kind of salad recipe, but was delighted to come across this chicken recipe that also required a few other things I was keen to use up from the fridge and freezer.  In short I didn't have to got out for a single thing.

Mark's recipe called for a 3-4 pound chicken (that's 1.4-1.8kg in our language) to serve 4 people.  I happened to have a 1kg bag of organic chicken pieces, which made three very generous servings - in fact probably could have fed four people with smaller appetites than us, or if you were serving this as part of a multi-course meal.  I also needed some white wine - check, half bottle, opened last weekend, still in the fridge;  a lemon - yes, one lemon left in the fruit bowl;  and freshly chopped flat-leaf parsley or tarragon - I happened to have both of those so used a combination of the two.

I also rustled up some basmati rice from the pantry to serve with it.

Sauteed Chicken With Green Olives & White Wine Recipe
Adapted from Mark Bittman's
Serves 3-4
Click here for a printable copy of this recipe

1kg organic chicken pieces
2-3 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil
salt & pepper
2 cups white wine
2 tablespoons balsamic vinegar
1 cup green olives, unpitted
1 lemon, sliced thinly
1/2 cup chopped walnuts, lightly toasted
1/4 cup chopped flat-leaf parsley or tarragon

First of all prepare the olives.  Tip them out onto a board, and press each one lightly with the flat blade of a knife (or you could use the bottom of a glass or cup) until the flesh just breaks.  Set aside.

Heat the oil in a large skillet over medium-high heat.  Add the chicken to the hot oil, skin side down, and cook until golden brown, turning as necessary, and seasoning with salt and pepper as you go.  This will take about 10 minutes. You may have to do this in batches - take care not to overcrowd the pan at this stage.

Once you have cooked all your chicken, return all pieces to the pan, skin side up, pour the wine and balsamic vinegar around the chicken, and add the olives to the pan.  Simmer vigorously until the chicken is nearly cooked through - about 10-15 minutes.

At this stage add the lemon slices to the pan and continue to cook for the final few minutes until the chicken is done.

Remove the chicken from the pan and arrange it, along with the lemon slices, on a serving platter.

Add the walnuts to the sauce, adjust the seasoning to taste, pour the sauce over the chicken.  Sprinkle the fresh herbs over the top.  Serve immediately.

Now I was on a roll, cooking without leaving the house.  What else could I come up with?  I discovered some radishes in the fridge that needed to be used up;  half a preserved lemon - the last one from the batch I made last year, and its time now to make more;  and half a bag of broad beans in the freezer.  So the finishing touch to the meal was turning this little assortment into a Radish & Broad Bean Salad from the Ottolenghi cookbook.

How to Cook Everything: Bittman Takes on America's Chefs


  1. That is great looking chicken. I love olives. I can never pass an olive bar.

  2. Nice choice of recipes.
    That crispy chicken looks really good.

  3. Wow, yours looks better than the one in the book. What a lovely dish. I think I would have to leave out the nuts. I don't like them mixed into my savory dishes though for a dessert they are fine. I'm just weird like that...

  4. Melissa, I love olives too. I actually just came across a couple of really good looking recipes for marinating them, so that's my next project.

    Andreas, thanks for visiting - I am so pleased I chose this recipe. Unlike those moments of what I call "menu envy" - you know in a restaurant when everyone else's meal arrives and looks fabulous and your's is such a disappointment you wish you'd chosen something else. This was a good choice.

    Carla and Michael - thank you for such a nice compliment - unfortunately, I don't have the book. I got the recipe from the internet which didn't have a picture, but nice to know that mine measure up at least - thanks. I think it would be fine without the nuts ... not so weird, I think it's kind of interesting the food combinations some of just can't abide - my partner can't stand any kind of fruit in a savoury dish, I can't bear rice with anything sweet (just thinking about it makes me feel ill) - go figure!


  5. Gorgeous dish and I love the combination of ingredients and flavors. It looks mouth-watering and delicious--a perfect pantry raid pick! ;-)

  6. It sounds like you had a fun time with this week's theme. The chicken recipe looks delightful. The Mediterranean warehouse you spoke of sounds like a lot of fun.

  7. Yay for Bittman! This looks delicious.

    I am like you when it comes to the pantry. It's an addiction. I'm working on it (not really).

  8. Always good when you can find a recipe to use up what you have on hand. Looks good.

  9. Ciao ! this recipe is really gorgeous !! I can't wait to try it !!!

  10. Deb - It was a great combination of ingredients - all the flavours married together beautifully - there wasn't a single ingredient that didn't seem "quite right" as can happen sometimes.

    Kim, I had great fun with the "pantry raid" theme. I love my weekly visits to the Mediterranean Warehouse - in addition to stocking all kinds of "Mediterranean" food supplies and wines, they also have a nice cafe/restaurant. I imagine though compared to some of the food outlets you have there it would probably seem a bit like the "corner grocer".

    Joanne - I'm so pleased to discover a "pantry soulmate".

    Jenny - it was great to have every single ingredient I needed on hand and not to have to go out for anything.

    Natalia - I hope you try it. It really is delicious.

  11. I know I'm late, but I've just now gotten round to making this. Thought it was really yummy. Love the combination of chicken and olives with the wine/balsamic sauce. Did the Ottolenghi salad too, but using frozen favas. That was pretty and tasty. Hope all's well with you, Sue!


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