Wednesday, May 25, 2011

Chicken with tomato and black olives

I have been using a lot of these amazing pitted, black, wrinkled, glossy, flavoursome olives lately. 
They are great in casseroles or tagine with chicken or lamb or simply sliced finely in a nicoise salad.
They are Moroccan dry-cured olives - originally the ripe Picholine olive variety, they are picked and then layered with salt and left for weeks to cure.  They are then rubbed with oil which gives them the glossy finish.
You might also be familiar with the French variation which is available sometimes with 'herbes de provence'.
At the weekend I roasted a large tray of San Marzano plum tomatoes, baby new Irish potatoes and some Moroccan black olives.  I placed a leg of lamb on the open shelf above and let the juices run off into the vegetables.  The result was amazing, simply a delicious way to cook lamb and the saltiness of the olives provided the perfect accompaniment.

This chicken dish is really simple and is a perfect mid-week meal for two.  If you have any left over sauce, it would be great the following night with spaghetti and some finely grated parmigiano reggiano.
Chicken with tomato and olives

For two, you will need:

2 free-range chicken breasts on the bone, skin on. 

1 medium onion, finely chopped
1 clove garlic, finely chopped
1 tin chopped tomatoes
1 tblsp tomato puree
1 sprig fresh marjoram or oregano
half a glass of red wine (optional)
salt and pepper

6-8 very small new potatoes, peeled

Preheat the oven to 170 degrees.
  • Add a knob of butter and a tblsp of olive oil to a warm pan.
  • Season the skin of the chicken breasts well and brown in the pan for about 10 minutes until the skin is golden.
  • In a separate saucepan add a small knob of butter and cook the finely chopped onion and garlic for 10 minutes so that it has softened. 
  • Add the tin of chopped tomatoes, a sprig of oregano or marjoram, tomato puree and a drop of red wine.  Let this simmer away for 10-15 minutes.
  • Stir in the pitted olives.
  • Lay the chicken skin side up in a shallow oven proof dish and pour over the tomato and olive sauce.
  • Nestle in the potatoes around the chicken and cover well with tin foil.
  • Cook in the oven for 45-50 minutes.
  • Serve with chopped parsley.

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