Provencal Chicken with Olives, Tomatoes and Red Peppers
This is a classic example of using how complex flavor of olives is used to enhance a simple dish. Rabbit instead of chicken is equally common, and green olives can be used instead of black.
1 fryer chicken, about 3 pounds, cut into serving pieces, or a selection of breasts and thighs
1 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
3 tablespoons fresh thyme leaves
1 teaspoon chopped fresh rosemary
1 tablespoon extra-virgin olive oil
1 1/2 teaspoons unsalted butter
1/2 cup minced yellow onion
2 cloves garlic, minced
4 to 6 large, very ripe tomatoes, chopped or 3 cups chopped canned plum (Roma) tomatoes and their juice
2 sweet red peppers, seeded and cut into 1-inch cubes
2 fresh bay leaves or 1 dried
16 oil-cured black olives
Rub the chicken pieces all over with the pepper, half of the thyme, and half of the rosemary. In a skillet large enough to hold all the chicken pieces in a single layer, heat the olive oil and butter over medium-high heat. When it is nearly smoking, add the chicken pieces. Reduce the heat to medium, and sauté for 2 to 3 minutes until lightly browned.
Turn the pieces over and cook for another minute or two to brown on the other side Add the onion and garlic and continue to cook for another minute or two. Pour the tomatoes over the chicken and add the peppers, and the bay leaves. Cover tightly. Reduce the heat to medium-low and cook until he juices run clear when the thickest part of a thigh is pierced with a knife, about 35 to 40 minutes.
Remove the cover, increase the heat to medium, add the olives, and cook for another 5 minutes of so to reduce and thicken the sauce. Stir in the remaining thyme and rosemary and serve hot.