This recipe came about because my wife presented me with a bottle of Minervois, a famed wine from the Languedoc-Rousillon wine region in France. The bottle is a blend of 60% Syrah grape and 40% Grenache. This particular wine is delightfully aromatic with a violet-tinged nose of black fruit and spice; and rich with prune and cinnamon flavors. And it’s the perfect wine to serve with, among other dishes, chicken with olives. Thus in this case the dish was made to match the wine.
My version of chicken with olives is normally made Puerto Rican style with the requisite spices: pepper, oregano, garlic, tomato sauce, and sofrito. Then I discovered there’s a Mexican style of chicken with olives. In this version they add chili powder, cumin, and dry sherry. This combination intrigued me: and thus the recipe given below. As with its Puerto Rican counterpart, the recipe is perfect with steamed rice. But you can substitute pasta or a grain such as couscous or quinoa. Whatever suitable side dish you use, the dish is heavenly.
CHICKEN WITH OLIVES MEXICAN-STYLE
1 3-3 ½ pound chicken, cut into serving pieces
Salt and freshly ground black pepper to taste
3 tablespoons olive oil
1 medium onion, finely sliced into rings
3 cloves garlic, peeled and finely minced
¼ cup dry sherry
½ teaspoon chili powder
1 teaspoon ground cumin
1 teaspoon oregano, crushed
2 tablespoons flour
2 ½ cups chopped fresh tomatoes or one 17-ounce can Italian peeled tomatoes
20 pitted green Spanish olives
1. Sprinkle chicken pieces with salt and pepper to taste.
2. Heat olive oil in a large, heavy skillet and, when it is hot but not smoking, add the chicken pieces skin side down. Cook until golden brown on one side and turn the pieces, Cook until golden on the other side. Transfer to large plate or platter and set aside.
3. To the fat in the skillet, add the onion and cook, stirring until wilted. Stir in the garlic. Add half of the sherry and let it cook until most of the liquid evaporates. Sprinkle with chili powder, cumin, oregano and flour. Stir with a wooden spoon until the ingredients are well blended.
4. Add the tomatoes and stir until thickened. Cook stirring about 10 minutes. Add chicken to skillet and mix, spooning sauce over chicken. Cover tightly and cook over low to moderate heat about 30 minutes or until chicken is tender. Add the olives, stir in the remaining sherry, bring to a boil and serve.
Yield: 4 to 6 servings.