Chicken Provencal

Sweet onion and salty olives balance tart lemon in this practical, make-ahead chicken dish.
For side dishes, caramelized fennel is de rigueur, as are potatoes or long-grained brown rice.

INGREDIENTS:
  • 1 pound ripe plum, or cherry tomatoes
  • 3 shallots, skinned, halved and finely sliced.
  • 4 (150 g) skinless boneless chicken breasts, or equivalent thighs
  • 1/4 cup all-purpose or blending flour
  • 2 tablespoons olive oil
  • 1 teaspoon finely chopped garlic
  • 1 flat anchovy fillet, mashed to a paste
  • 1 rounded tablespoon capers
  • 1/2 cup dry white wine
  • 3/4 cup chicken stock
  • 10 pitted brine-cured black olives, halved
  • 2 tablespoons butter, softened
  • 1 tablespoon shredded basil
  • Freshly ground pepper to taste
    1 handful small cremini mushrooms, quartered (optional extra)
  • 1 small bulb fennel, in 1/4 inch slices (optional extra)
YIELD: 4 persons
COURSE: Chicken & Other Birds
CUISINE: French
DIRECTIONS:
  1. Dice the plum tomatoes to 1/2 inch cubes or halve the cherry tomatoes.
  2. Pat chicken dry and sprinkle with 1/2 teaspoon each of salt and pepper, then dredge in flour, shaking off excess. Heat oil in a 12-inch heavy skillet over medium-high heat until it shimmers, then cook chicken, turning once, until golden and just cooked through, 6 to 8 minutes in total or an internal temperature of 160 degrees F. Transfer to a platter and keep warm, covered.
  3. Add garlic, shallots and anchovy paste to skillet and cook over medium heat, stirring, until fragrant, about 30 seconds. Add wine and bring to a boil, scraping up brown bits. Stir in tomatoes, stock, capers and olives and simmer, uncovered, stirring occasionally, until mixture has thickened into a sauce, 8 to 10 minutes.
  4. Whisk in butter and any juices from platter. Add chicken and simmer until just heated through; about 2 minutes. Serve sprinkled with fresh basil.