White Wine Braised Chicken with Pancetta, Oil-Cured Black Olives, and Red Bell Peppers

Not too long ago, I picked up some olives from the olive bar at my local health food store. I felt like I had gotten stuck in a rut with my eating, so I thought the olives would perk up my meals. I brought them home, then I had no idea what to do with them. Luckily, I remembered on my Italian cuisine calendar a few months ago there was a recipe for roasted chicken with pancetta (Italian bacon) and oil cured olives. I didn't want to heat up the oven, so I decided to use the same flavor combination with braised chicken. I know it's summer and it's wicked hot, but I still love comfort foods like braised chicken no matter what time of the year. What started out as a recipe with just chicken, pancetta, olives, and white wine ended up exploding into a whole lot of ingredients. The final product ended up being a complex mixture of sweet and savory and quite complex. Something inexplicably magical happened with the sauce once I added the olives and simmered them for a few minutes. The sauce became a little creamy and tinged with the color of the meat of the olives. It was kind of like a cream-less cream sauce, which was perfectly soaked up by some steamed cauliflower.

I removed the skin of the chicken as I often do for braising because I find it becomes flabby as it simmers away, but if you like the skin you can leave it. By removing the skin there is the added bonus of removing some fat. The wine seems to penetrate the skinless chicken much more successfully as well.

White Wine Braised Chicken with Pancetta, Oil-Cured Black Olives, and Red Bell Peppers
Printable Recipe

1 tsp extra virgin olive oil
4 bone-in skinless chicken thighs
1 oz diced pancetta
1 small onion, finely diced
3 cloves garlic, minced
1 medium red bell pepper, cut into 1-inch chunks
1 1/2 tsp minced fresh rosemary
1/2 cup dry white wine (I used Sauvignon blanc, but use whatever you think tastes good)
10-12 pitted oil-cured black olives, halved
salt and pepper, to taste

1. Heat the olive oil over medium-high heat. Season the chicken with a little salt and liberally with pepper and sear on both sides until browned. Remove the chicken to the side and drop the heat to medium-low.
2. Add the pancetta and cook slowly to render the fat. Once the pancetta is crisp, remove it to a paper towel-line plate and pour off all but 1 tsp of fat.
3. Add the onion, garlic, and pepper and saute until the onions are translucent over medium heat; the bell pepper will not be fully cooked. Add the rosemary and wine and bring to a simmer. Return the chicken to the pan and cook, partially covered, approximately 15-20 minutes of until the chicken is nearly done.
4. Add the olives and pancetta to the pan and cook 5 minutes more, allowing the sauce to reduce by about half and until the chicken is completely cooked through. Taste the sauce for salt and pepper (note: the olives and pancetta add quite a lot of saltiness to the sauce) and serve immediately.

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