Saturday, October 13, 2007

Chicken with Apricots and Olives

Inspired by my aunt Gretchen’s wonderful Provençal kitchen, I made this dish the evening we returned from her house in the South of France. The flavors are so sunny and warm. The sweet apricot and salty olive play nicely off one and other. It’s a great dish to prepare ahead and just pop in the oven 45 minutes before dinner.

4 boneless and skinless chicken breasts
2 tablespoons olive oil
½ teaspoon Herbs de Provence
Equal parts water and dry white wine
20 ‘gourmet’ green olives (with or without pits, but not cheap ones from a jar)
10 unsweetened, dried apricots, sliced in half

1) Brown the chicken breasts in a non-stick pan, in the olive oil-- not cooked, just a minute or two on each side. If you are in a rush, this step can be skipped.

2) Place browned or raw chicken breasts in a casserole dish just big enough to fit them snuggly. Pour in equal parts water and wine to come halfway up the side of the chicken-- do not submerge. Sprinkle with Herbs de Provence and season lightly with salt. Scatter the olives and apricots around the chicken in the liquid. Cover or seal with aluminium foil. At this point, the dish can be held, covered, in the refrigerator for a few hours until ready to bake (just make sure to remove from the refrigerator 20 minutes before baking, to 'warm up' on the counter until baking time.)

3) Preheat oven to 175C or 350F. Bake chicken, covered for 45 minutes. Remove and serve with all the gorgeous goop and a side of couscous.

Serves 4, easily doubled.

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