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Wednesday, June 23, 2010

Butter and Olive Oil,Oh What A Pair.

  Oh goodness this dish is good.You want a rich,decadent plate full of flavors,you make this recipe.I found it in a cookbook that features the twelve regions of Italy and the recipes that reflect the nature,love of food and local ingredients in that region.The cookbook is called Lidia Cooks From the Heart of Italy and it's written by a fantsatic italian lady chef Lidia Bastianich  and her daughter Tanya Bastianich Manuali. I had the pleasure of meeting Lidia Bastianich a few weeks ago at the downtown farmers market and was thrilled when she offered some culinary advice on the rich,decadent dish I spoke of a few sentences back,but first a little lesson on regiaonal Italy.
         Want to go to Italy? We could leave tomorrow. We would go to the region of Le Marche,Italy . It is on the coast of the Adriatic Sea and the city of Ascoli is where we would visit first. It is covered in olive groves and great olives olive oils come from this region. The city of Ascoli is known for a certain kind of olive, Ascolana tenera  or tender Ascolana. The Ascolana tenera is large tender green olive. The olives are cured in brine and according to Lidia,this type of olive is great for antipastos.Gosh the possibilities of this olive...I'm hooked.
      The recipe that makes me want to jump on a plane to the Le Marche region of Italy is called Chicken with Olives and Pine Nuts. The different components of this recipe do just fine on their own,but they wouldn't taste their best with out the others,Let's talk. Butter and olive oil melted together really add a smooth blanket of flavor wrapped up in each bite of chicken (I didn't put in the title for just any reason.)The  savory olives are noticed through the garlic and bay leaves that roast right along side them in the pan.The toasted pine nuts are scattered in the last few minutes of cooking and are glazed by the olive/bay leaf/garlic buttery goodness.Funny thing happens,the butter is browned right in front of you and really goes unnoticed until you taste the pine nuts with the crispy skin on the chicken. And oh,oh the skin on the chicken pieces. The chicken skin has a glazed,still crispy texture and really is the culinary bonus of this dish.Ok,so you buy the tickets to Italy and I'll tell you how to make Chicken with Olives and Pine Nuts. Here goes:

Chicken with Olives and Pine Nuts
from Lidia Cooks From The Heart of Italy
 -Lidia Bastianich and Tanya Bastianich Manuali
pg 176....I tell you the page number,because it is that good.
Ingredients:
3 1/2 pounds assorted cut-up chicken pieces
( skin-on and bone-in,it makes all the difference in the world)
1 tsp kosher salt
2 TBL extra-virgin olive oil
2 TBL butter ( i used a little bit more than that,4 TBL or so)
3 plump garlic cloves,peeled
2 bay leaves,preferably fresh (when Lidia and I got to chat at the market,she said if you use dry,don't break the leaves,just place them in the pan)
1 cup brine-cured green Italian olives or oil-cured Italian black olives
1/2 c white wine (remember only cook with a wine you would drink,if you wouldn't drink it,don't dare cook with it. Enjoy all the aspects of your food)
1/4 c toasted pine nuts (in a dry skillet on low heat,toast them for 1-2 minutes,just a little brown on the edges)
Recommended Equipment: Now Lidia said a cast iron skillet would be best,but seeing as I don't have a 12 inch cast iron skillet,I opted to use a 12-in enameled cast iron skillet,it worked really well.)
Directions:
1. Rinse the chicken pieces, pat dry and trim off the excess fat,not all the skin,just the excess. Season the chicken all over with salt.
2.Melt the olive oil and butter in the pan over med-hi heat. When the butter is melted lay the chicken pieces in the pan,skin side down in a single layer;drop the garlic cloves and bay leaves in the spaces between the chicken pieces. Cover the pan and let the chicken cook over gentle heat browning slowly. After about 10 minutes,uncover the pan and move them around the pan (so they cook evenly)replace the cover. Turn again in 10 minutes or so and continue cooking covered.
3. While the chicken cooks pit the olives,if you bought pitted. I found brine-cured green olives, pitted, in a can at Whole Foods ) So after the chicken has cooked for 30 minutes,scatter the olives onto the pan bottom,around the chicken and pour in the wine. Raise the heat so the liquid is bubbling,cover and cook gradually concentrating the juices,about 5 minutes.
4. Remove the cover and cook uncovered,evaporating the pan juices and turning the chicken pieces and olives.( this step helps to glaze the chicken and roast the olives,tasty stuff) Scatter the pine nuts around the chicken and continue cooking uncovered,turn the chicken one more time. Turn off the heat and serve the chicken right from the skillet or in heaps in shallow bowls. BE SURE to spoon any extra sauce left in the pan over each serving,it's liquid gold,geez.

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