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Honest Food

Passport & Plate - Lemon Chicken with Green Olives

Italy | Thursday, March 13, 2014 | 4 photos

1 chicken, cut up into 8 pieces (skin and bone in)
10 slices of lemon
3 cloves garlic, crushed
1 onion, roughly diced
1/2 white wine
1 cup chicken stock
12 green olives (Cerignola are the best but use what you can get)
4 branches of rosemary and 4 or 5 whole sage leaves
Good quality olive oil


How to prepare this recipe
In a heavy frying pan brown the chicken in batches (so they are not crowded), after seasoning them well with salt and pepper. Remove the chicken pieces to a suitable roasting dish as you work. When all the chicken is well browned, drain off any excess fat from the frying pan and carefully slide in the lemons. Continue to carefully cook them over med high heat until they lose their juice and start to caramelize. When slightly golden, remove the lemons to the casserole and continue with the onions, sautéing them just until they start to turn golden and then add the chopped garlic for about one more minute of cooking. Scrape all of the onions and garlic into the casserole.
You should now have a nice coating of goodness on the bottom of your frying pan. Place the pan back over medium heat and pour in the white wine. Cook and reduce the wine while scraping up the bits on the bottom until it has almost all evaporated, then add the stock and bring to a boil. Meanwhile, arrange the rest of the ingredients nicely in the casserole, strewing the olives around and tucking in the rosemary and sage leaves. Pour the stock into the casserole (it should come just under half way up the chicken) and give the whole dish a good hit of olive oil, 6 twists of pepper and a pinch of salt (careful, the olives could be salty).
Bake at 350F for around 30 minutes covered and then another 15 to 20 minutes uncovered until the stock and juices have reduced down to a light sauce and the thighs are cooked through.
Check the sauce for salt and pepper and adjust.
Serve the chicken with roasted potatoes and maybe some green beans.


The story behind this recipe
When I was thirteen I took my first job, as a busboy, in a restaurant. In the kitchen was a woman named Rosa, who treated me like one of her children. At the end of the night, after I had cleaned up and set the table for the owners and cooks to eat, Rosa would then cook me something to nosh. If I was lucky I would get a piece of veal or a bowl of pasta but many nights I would get a simple plate of roasted potatoes with rosemary, an Italian staple. I called them Rosa's potatoes and what she did to make them so delicious was deep fry the wedges and then quickly sautée them in butter with fresh rosemary, salt and pepper. One of the dishes we served, always accompanied by a side of Rosa's potatoes was Lemon Chicken with Green Olives. The intense smell of braising chicken with rosemary, garlic, lemon and olive oil filled the restaurant during service and would almost always sell out before the end of the night. On the rare occasions that it
didn't, I would secretly beg Rosa to slip me a piece for my staff meal, with plenty of potatoes of course.
Sadly Rosa past away a couple of years ago. She spent her life cooking delicious Italian food and showing people the delights in the simplicity of Italian cuisine. She
also started the love affair that I have with Italian food and culture that is stronger than ever thirty five years later. This dish is “cucina amore” as satisfying to cook as it is to eat!

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