Sauteed chicken with green olives and cilantro Wine suggestion
Mature Riesling or ripe Sauvignon Blanc:
Riesling "Clos Hauserer" 1996, Zind Humbrecht (Alsace)
Sauvignon Blanc "Eisele Vineyard" 1999, Araujo (Napa Valley)

Yield: 4 servings

  • One 3- to 4-pound chicken, cut up for sautéing
  • 2 Tablespoons plus 1 teaspoon extra virgin olive oil
  • 1/4 cup onions, minced
  • 2 teaspoons ginger, minced
  • 2-inch piece cinnamon
  • A few strands of saffron or 1/2 teaspoon dried turmeric
  • 2 cups chicken stock or other stock
  • 2 Tablespoons peanut or neutral-flavored oil, such as canola
  • 2 Tablespoons green olives, minced
  • 2 teaspoons lemon juice
  • 1 Tablespoon cilantro leaves, coarsely chopped
  • Salt and freshly ground black pepper

Preheat the oven to 500°F. Place 2 tablespoons olive oil in a small saucepan over medium heat. Add the onion, ginger, cinnamon, saffron or turmeric and a pinch of salt and cook, stirring occasionally, for about 5 minutes. Add the stock and increase the heat to high; cook, stirring occasionally, while you prepare the chicken. When the liquid has reduced by about three-quarters and becomes syrupy, turn off the heat.

Heat the peanut or other oil in a large, preferably nonstick, ovenproof skillet over medium-high heat for a minute or two. Season the chicken on both sides with salt and pepper. Place the chicken in the skillet, skin side down, and cook undisturbed until lightly browned, 5 to 8 minutes. Turn over and cook on the other side for about 2 minutes. Turn the chicken skin side down again, and place the skillet in the oven. Check it after 15 minutes, and remove the pieces as they are cooked through (the breasts will be cooked before the legs; keep them warm).

When the chicken is just about done, finish the sauce. Stir in the remaining 1 teaspoon of olive oil, the olives and some salt (not too much as the olives are salty) and pepper. Cook for about 2 minutes over medium-high heat stirring once or twice. Turn off the heat and add the lemon juice and cilantro. Remove the cinnamon stick.

To serve, arrange the chicken on 4 plates. Spoon the sauce around it, not over it, so the chicken stays crunchy.