Storm Stella! The blizzard of 2017. In this house, as in many others, nothing is more exciting than a good storm. Snow days are made for roaring fires, PJs all day long, and belly-warming comfort food. We’ve been light on snow this year, so we wanted to do this one right. That meant finding the perfect recipe. It didn’t take long before I found a winner in Donald Link’s Down South which, to be frank, is filled with winners. Braised Chicken with Salami & Olives. It hit all of the high points – a little decadent, won’t break the bank, and Doodle and Bern will both love it. That kid’s a sucker for chicken in a sauce and I am game for anything that works for everyone in the house.
I love braised dishes because, despite sounding like they should be served by a butler wearing a monocle and coattails, they’re usually dead simple. The meat ends up tender enough to cut with a fork, the sauce can go over anything, and the flavors are always off the charts due to the cooking down process. We even had most of the ingredients in the house (where you find martinis, you find olives). I know it’s tempting to grab boneless-skinless chicken pieces, but go bone-in for this dish to help ensure your chicks don’t dry out. Nobody likes a dry piece of chicken. That’s not how you make friends.
I’m notorious for using enough creative license to call a dish my own when it comes to following recipes, but I followed this one to the ‘t’ and I couldn’t have asked for anything more. Bonus: I think you could make this work in a crock pot.
Braised Chicken with Salami & Olives
(from Donald Link’s Down South, recipe also available at NY Times Cooking)
- 1 (3 1/2- to 4-pound) chicken, cut into 10 pieces
(or you can use a pack of thighs, a pack of breasts and a pack of legs)
- 2 teaspoons kosher salt
- ¾ teaspoon black pepper
- 3 tablespoons olive oil
- 1 medium onion, thinly sliced
- 5 garlic cloves, thinly sliced
- ½ fennel bulb, thinly sliced
- 1 rosemary branch, about 8 inches
- 1 ¼ cups diced salami
- 1 cup pitted green olives, rinsed and cut in half
- 1 teaspoon dried oregano
- ½ teaspoon red pepper flakes
- ½ cup dry white wine
- 2 tablespoons tomato paste
- 2 tablespoons all-purpose flour
- 2 ¼ cups chicken broth
- 4 bay leaves
- Juice of 1 lemon
1. Heat oven to 375 degrees. Season chicken with salt and pepper. Heat olive oil in a large skillet over medium heat and sear chicken in 2 batches until golden brown, about 7 minutes per side. Transfer cooked chicken to a 9-by-13-inch baking dish or another large, shallow casserole.
2. Add onions to skillet and cook in the rendered chicken fat until brown, stirring, about 4 minutes. Add garlic, fennel, rosemary branch, salami, olives, oregano and red pepper flakes. Pour in wine and simmer to reduce, scraping the bottom of the pan. Add tomato paste and cook for 5 minutes. Add flour and cook, stirring to incorporate, for another 2 minutes.
Okay – I’m going to interject here. At this point, my house smelled AMAZING. If you’ve ever been down to New Orleans and had a muffuletta from Central Grocery, it was like that x1,000. Salami and green olives are meant to be together.3. Pour in chicken broth in batches and stir to incorporate. Bring to a simmer over medium heat and cook until slightly thickened, 2 to 3 minutes. Stir in bay leaves and lemon juice.
4. Pour sauce over the chicken in the baking dish and roast in the oven, basting every 30 minutes, until chicken is very tender, about 1 1/2 hours. Discard bay leaves and rosemary. Serve chicken warm, with plenty of sauce.
(Full disclosure: I completely exploded my 9×13 casserole dish in a freak stove-top lasagna accident, so I just set my chicken aside and added it back into the big pan I was cooking in. It worked out just fine)
The warm, salty, savory medley of flavor in this dish left nothing to be desired. A little Sicilian and a lot of southern, it was the perfect thing to stick in the oven while we warmed up from our snow day adventures.