This is a dish that I could eat a few times a week for the rest of my life and be quite happy indeed, thank you very much. It is richly flavored and exciting, studded with garlic, olives, and capers, yet light and easy to toss together on the fly. It is also one of those dishes that gets better with time, so definitely plan on making a large batch so that you can enjoy it again as left-overs a few days later. In fact, the dish is so good the next day, that a few of the kids packed it cold for school lunch, and brought home nothing but a tupperware full of bones!
The recipe is from the outstanding cooking teacher, and host of innumerable PBS cooking shows, Joanne Weir. I had the good fortune of cooking with Joanne a few years back, when she was a guest chef at a cooking class I was enrolled in up in Napa Valley. I liked her immediately, as her approach to cooking, and her focus on Mediterranean cuisines, really resonated with me. She is a very accomplished chef that cooks “uncomplicated”, fresh, and wholesome fare, with such a relaxed energy, that as a student I couldn’t help but slip into her groove and bop along for the ride. We had a blast that day.
These days, Joanne spends part of her year taking her cooking classes on the road, teaching all over the globe. If you have the time, the desire, and the means, I highly recommend you check out her class offerings here: Joanne Weir’s Cooking Classes , and should any of you decide to join her, and need someone to carry your apron or knife roll, you know where to reach me.
Cheers – S
- 10 cloves garlic, peeled
- 2 tablespoons olive oil
- 1 frying chicken (4 pounds), cut into 6 pieces
- Salt and freshly ground black pepper
- 3 cups dry red wine (Cabernet Sauvignon, Chianti, or Côtes du Rhône)
- 2 cups chicken stock
- 2 cups peeled, seeded, chopped tomatoes, fresh or canned
- 1 tablespoon tomato paste
- 3/4 cup Kalamata or Niçoise olives, pitted
- 3 tablespoons capers, rinsed
- Fresh flat-leaf parsley leaves as a garnish
- Place the garlic cloves in a saucepan, cover with water, and bring to a boil over medium-high heat. As soon as the water comes to a boil, drain the garlic and discard the water. Repeat. Set the garlic aside.
- Heat 1 tablespoon of the olive oil in a large heavy flameproof casserole over medium-high heat. Add the chicken in a single layer, leaving space between the pieces. Season with salt and pepper, and cook until light golden on each side, 10 minutes total. Remove the chicken from the pan and pour off the excess fat. Increase the heat to high, add the wine to the pan, and reduce by approximately half, 10 minutes. Return the drumsticks and thighs to the pan, along with the garlic, chicken stock, tomatoes, and tomato paste. Bring to a boil, reduce the heat to low, and simmer for 5 minutes. Then add the breasts and continue to cook, covered, until the juices from the chicken are clear, 15 to 20 minutes.
- Using tongs, remove the chicken pieces from the pan and set aside; cover with foil to keep warm. Adjust the heat to high, add the olives and capers to the pan, and simmer until the liquid reduces by half and thickens, 10 to 15 minutes. (The chicken and sauce can be prepared ahead to this point and refrigerated. Bring the sauce back to a simmer before continuing.)
- Return the chicken to the pan and heat thoroughly, 5 to 10 minutes. Arrange the chicken on a platter and drizzle the sauce over the top. Garnish with parsley, and serve.