Summer is winding down, but the heat isn’t gone quite yet. On days where you can’t stomach the thought of cooking after noon, this is the recipe for you. Chicken with olives.
The beauty about a recipe like this is that it gets better the longer it sits; I prefer it even at room temperature. The vinegar, celery, olives, and capers marry into a delicious, slick sauce that coats the braised chicken. It’s certainly heavy enough to be a meal, but not so heavy that you don’t want to eat it after a day on the beach.
At my cousin’s first job out of culinary school, working at a restaurant in D.C, he made this recipe for family lunch. They liked it so much they put a version of it on their menu, but they added butter to make it more palatable to the general audience. If you don’t enjoy getting kicked in the teeth by vinegar, by all means, add a nob of butter to the pot.
First you brown the chicken, then remove it to cook the sliced celery, crushed green olives, capers, garlic, and vinegar together. Back in goes the chicken, then at the end you add chopped parsley. It all comes together in under two hours, and most of that time is hands off.
This recipe is good. Perfect, even. Probably one of my favorite things to eat ever. You can either add the celery leaves with the celery or leave them out altogether. Be very gentle with the salt; the olives and capers alone are almost enough to salt the dish. This is a very forgiving braise, as my Aunt Loretta noted when giving me the recipe. Enjoy.
Chicken with Olives Recipe
Prep time: 20 minutes
Cook time: 1 hour 30 minutes
Total time: 1 hour 50 minutes
2 whole chickens, broken down into 10 pieces (each)
4 large garlic cloves, crushed and peeled
1 head celery
¾ lb cured green olives, preferably Italian
1 3.5 oz jar capers
¾ cup red wine vinegar
2 tbs parsley
- Break down your chickens into 8 pieces (2 thighs, 2 drumsticks, 2 wings, 2 breasts). Cut breasts in half so you have 10 pieces per bird, 20 pieces total. Season the chicken very lightly with salt and black pepper.
- In a heavy pot (a dutch oven is best), heat olive oil over medium high heat. When the oil is hot, brown the chicken until golden on both sides. Remove chicken as it browns.
- While your chicken is browning, prep the other ingredients.
- Use a heavy object, like a pan, to crush the olives and remove the pits. If you can only find pitted olives, just give them a rough chop.
- Cut your celery into ⅛-inch slices.
- Remove chicken and sauté garlic until just golden on medium low heat, then remove the garlic from the pot.
- Add olives, celery, capers, and vinegar to the pot. Raise temperature to medium and cook until celery is just tender, making sure you scrape up any chicken bits from the bottom of the pan. Stir occasionally.
- Add browned chicken to the pot and cover. Simmer on low heat for about an hour, stirring occasionally.
- The last fifteen minutes or so of cooking, remove the lid and raise the heat a little so the juices thicken.
- Add chopped parsley to the pot when the chicken is completely cooked and remove from the heat. If you like, add the chopped celery leaves as well.
This dish is best served at room temperature and even better the next day. Serve the chicken with plenty of the juices and olives on top. Crusty bread never hurts.
Julia Terranova is a Brooklyn born, Italian-American student with a love of Rome and all things Italy. She spends her time cooking for friends and reading as many cookbooks as she can find.