Chicken has never been my favorite meat to cook. It’s very temperamental. You don’t want to undercook it and risk food poisoning, but if you overcook it, the texture becomes tough and rubbery. I almost never order it at a restaurant for the mere fact I don’t want to be disappointed in my choice because the chef was having a bad night.
THAT being said, I will hands down recommend this recipe to EVERYONE. My friend made it for me as a test run for her family Christmas dinner, and I have been making it for anyone I can since then. Even my sister, her husband, and his father, who are three of the most particular eaters on this earth and a very daunting crowd to please, loved this chicken. Big Al even went back for seconds!!
To top it off, this chicken is actually pretty easy to make. The hardest part is separating the thyme leaves from the stems. You can substitute dried herbs, although the flavor boost they provide won’t be there. The chicken goes great with simple sides, such as rice, mashed potatoes, cauliflower, simple vegetables, or even by itself.
I never like to guarantee a recipe, but if I did, this would be it.
Roasted Chicken with Cured Olives and Pancetta
(Gluten Free, Paleo*)
- 5 lbs chicken pieces, skin on, bones in (Note 1)
- 1/4 cup extra virgin olive oil
- 2 tbsp fresh thyme
- 3 tbsp fresh rosemary
- 1 tsp crushed red pepper flakes
- 1 tbsp salt
- 1/2 tbsp pepper
- 15-20 garlic cloves
- 4 slices pancetta, 1/4-1/3 inch think
- 1 1/2 cup white wine (Note 2)
- 30+ oil cured black olives, pitted (Note 3)
- Preheat the oven to 450 degrees Fahrenheit.
- Strip thyme and rosemary of their leaves, then chop finely.
- In a casserole dish that snuggly fits all the chicken, rub down the meat with the olive oil*, thyme, rosemary, salt, pepper, and red pepper flakes, ensuring that the herbs and spices are evenly distributed. Arrange the chicken in the dish so they don’t overlap, skin side facing up.
- Peel the garlic. Scatter the cloves evenly throughout the dish. I like to place most of the garlic between the chicken pieces, where they are mostly likely to soak up (and flavor) the wine later.
- Chop the pancetta into large cubes, approximately the same thickness as they are cut. Scatter these throughout the dish as well. While I like my garlic in the wine sauce, I prefer my pancetta on top of the chicken, where the can crisp up nicely.
- Place the dish in the oven and bake for approximate 20 minutes, until the chicken is lightly browned. Don’t move on to the next step until the chicken has achieved the slight gold color. Check back every 5 minutes until then.
- Once the chicken has begun to brown, add the wine and roast for 8 more minutes.
- Distribute the olives (I have no preference on location for them…at this point I just want to eat) and roast for 20 more minutes. The chicken should be a deep golden brown color at this point.
- Remove the dish from the oven and let the chicken rest for 10 minutes, which also allows it to cool slightly.
- Serve the chicken along with some of the wine sauce.
Note 1: Choose your favorite parts of the chicken: breast, thighs, legs, wings. To easily put together 5 pounds, I’ve gone to the butcher counter at my local grocery store, and they were able to carve up the correct pieces to make my desired weight. You don’t need EXACTLY 5 lbs, just enough, give or take, to fill up your casserole dish.
Note 2: Stick to a less fruity white. Cabernet Sauvignon, Chenin Blanc, Dry Riesling, Chardonnay, Viognier.
Note 3: Cured. Black. Olives. Not kalamata. Not the canned black olives. If there is a make or break with this dish, its the olives. Find a grocery store with an olive bar…they’ll be there.
*If you are trying to make this dish paleo, omit the olive oil. I made it this way for my sister with raving results.