Chicken. We eat chicken a lot around here. But oh, chicken… Ever get tired of chicken? I feel like I get stuck in a chicken rut sometimes and even though chicken is pretty darn versatile, sometimes it just feels uhhh… chicken-y? So I am always on the hunt for delicious, simple chicken dishes. (please forgive the fact that I just said chicken 72 times) This chicken with shallots and olives recipe is a nice step up from your usual weeknight dinner. Elegant enough to be a special occasion meal but also simple enough to make any old night. No coat and tie required.
I absolutely love this dinner. Y’all know how I feel about briney things from my antipasto chicken post. I think green olives may be my favorite olive…… although I do love a good kalamata… oh I don’t know really, but I flipping love olives. Shallots give it such lovely onion flavor without being overwhelming. They are delicate and sweet once cooked with the sauce. Oh, and the sauce! It’s a thin, simple sauce with white wine, lemon juice and chicken stock. It keeps everything juicy and flavorful. Check and check!
Another nice thing about this recipe is that you only need to dirty one pan. You cook the chicken and then keep it warm while making the sauce in the same pan. Another requirement for a weeknight dinner round here… easy clean up!
I think the biggest problem people encounter while trying to cook boneless, skinless chicken breasts is that they come out so very dry. It has happened to the best of us. The trick I have found is to make them thin and even so the whole thing cooks at the same rate. First butterfly the breasts, which means to cut them long ways in half so they are thinner. Takes a little practice, but don’t let that stop you! Then line them up on your cutting board, cover with plastic wrap, and use a mallet or a can or rolling pin to pound them to even thickness. I also use an instant read thermometer from time to time if I’m feeling uncertain about their doneness. Chicken needs to be cooked to 165º. Less than that and its not safe (icky undercooked chicken is the worst!), but more than that and they start to dry out (also terrible). The best instant read thermometer out there is the ThermoWorks Thermapen , but at $96 it is quite the investment. I went ahead and tried the Lavatools Thermawand. At $24.99 it was much more doable for our budget, and it works pretty well. It is not quite as quick as I would like, which is probably the biggest advantage to the fancy one, but it does the job. I will probably break down and try the more expensive model one of these days because I’m a sucker for expensive kitchen tools. Oy. I use my instant read a lot though… ain’t no shame! It makes my life easier and cooking better… what else can you ask from a thermometer??
I just love piling on all of the goodies into one perfect bite on my fork and swirling it around in the sauce and oh my yum. This is delicious with some wild rice or couscous because then you can soak up even more of the sauce… just yes. I made this meal for my cousins over spring break, and they gobbled it up! It’s a winner when they go back for seconds.
Here’s to another glorious day and week ahead of us. Spending time with loved ones around a great meal is one of life’s greatest joys. Hope your family loves this one as much as mine does. Happy Monday!
- 2 lbs boneless, skinless chicken breasts
- salt and pepper
- fresh or dry thyme (optional)
- olive oil
- 2-3 shallots sliced
- ¼ cup dry white wine
- 2 Tablespoons freshly squeezed lemon juice
- ½ cup chicken stock
- ¾ cup chopped green olives
- 2 Tablespoons of cold butter
- Butterfly and pound the chicken to even out the thickness. Pat dry.
- Season both sides with salt, pepper, and thyme.
- In a large, flat bottomed skillet heat 2 Tbs of olive oil. When the pan is hot, cook the chicken in batches until both sides are nicely browned and they reach an internal temp of 165. This should only take a few minutes per side if they are pounded thin. Avoid flipping them back and forth too much as that will hinder the browning process. Keep the cooked chicken warm as you take it out of the pan.
- While chicken cooks, slice your shallots and olives.
- Once all chicken is cooked add another Tbs or so of olive oil and add the shallots to the hot pan. Cook until softened and starting to brown slightly.
- Add the wine. Stir and scrape any bits left from cooking the chicken. Reduce and cook off the wine until about ½ the liquid remains.
- Add the lemon juice and chicken broth. Again reduce to about ½ the amount of liquid.
- Add the olives and stir in the butter at the end. This will finish the sauce and give it a nice silky-ness.