Now, it's very likely that you're feeling skeptical about this recipe. Chicken? With grapes? And grapes? With olives? Like most sweet and savory pairings, the ingredients seem like an odd match at first, but then work so well together that you wonder why you never thought to put them together before. So, let's get to it: the olives and the grapes. They're amazing together, surprising ingredient soulmates. Both grapes and olives are usually eaten cold, as a snack or something to nibble on -- a bit of an afterthought -- but here they are elevated, completely transformed with a little heat. The flavors of each are intensified, and the grapes in particular become nice and caramelized (think of the roasting as a kind of ingredient makeover). The saltiness of the olives harmonizes perfectly with the sweetness of the grapes, and both play nicely with the sauteed shallot added into the mix, just to keep things interesting. The chicken here is also fantastic -- browning it in the pan first assures it's nice and crispy on the outside and juicy on the inside, and it absorbs the flavors of the shallots, grapes, and olives while roasting. Yum.
This dish is super quick to make -- it's just a matter of cooking the chicken for a few minutes, tipping the grapes and olives into the same pan, and putting the whole thing in the oven, making it a perfect quick weeknight dinner.That being said, it is also fancy and elegant enough for a dinner party (much better more interesting than the usual roast chicken, no?) and the roasted grapes and rosemary make this a perfect main course for Autumn. Enjoy everyone!
ROAST CHICKEN WITH OLIVES, GRAPES, AND ROSEMARY
3 pounds (1 1/3 kg) chicken parts (thighs, drumsticks, and/or breasts), with skin and bones
Freshly ground black pepper
1 tablespoon olive oil
1 cup seedless grapes*
1 cup pitted Kalamata olives
2 small shallots, thinly sliced
1/2 cup dry white wine
1/2 cup chicken broth
1 tablespoon finely chopped fresh rosemary
Preheat your oven to 450 degrees with a rack in middle. Pat chicken dry, and season generously with salt and freshly ground black pepper. Heat oil in an ovenproof 12-inch heavy skillet (use a cast-iron skillet if you’ve got one) over medium- high heat until it shimmers. Working in two batches, brown the chicken, skin side down first and turning them over once, about 5 minutes per batch. I like to take a lot of care in this step, not moving the chicken until the skin releases itself and has a nice bronze on it. Next, saute the shallot in the pan until soft (in the original recipe, the shallots are added raw and then allowed to cook along with the olives and grapes that you'll see in the next step, but I like caramelizing them a bit).
Return the chicken to the pan, skin side up, and surround the pieces with grapes and olives. If you can't find seedless grapes (as is my case here in Italy) -- it doesn't take long to halve the grapes and remove the seeds, as I did.* Roast the chicken in the oven until it has just cooked through and the juices run clear, about 20 minutes. Transfer the chicken, grapes, and olives to a platter, then add wine, rosemary, and chicken broth to the pan juices in skillet. Bring liquid to a boil, scraping up any brown bits, until it has reduced by half, for 2 to 3 minutes. Strain sauce, if desired, and then pour it over the chicken. Garnish with extra rosemary and serve immediately.