This recipe started with a container of leftover ripe green olives in the fridge. The thought of marinating those salty olives with chicken sounded enticing. I began throwing together all kinds of complimentary flavors– lime juice for a mild tartness, honey for sweetness, garlic and oregano, plus red pepper flakes for a kick. The result is my Mediterranean Olive Chicken– now a favorite recipe on my site, which is cooked in home kitchens all around the world. Who knew those leftover green olives would lead to something so popular and enduring?
I grew up eating a lot of chicken and a lot of fish. My mom and stepdad stuck to a heart-healthy diet, which meant that we rarely ate red meat. I used to complain about this when I was 6 or 7 years old… in fact, I had a little saying, which I liked to proclaim in sing-song fashion:
Chicken or fish, chicken or fish, all we ever eat is chicken or fish.
My mother, bless her heart, refrained from scolding me. She’d just smile, hand me my plate, and cheerfully announce that I was on dish duty. I quickly learned that I’d better stop complaining and eat up, or I’d be stuck doing dishes until I went to college.
Looking back, I find it funny that I was bummed about the lack of red meat in my childhood diet. Nowadays, I don’t eat much meat at all– in fact, I would say we’re about 80% vegetarian. We eat Mediterranean-style most of the time, which means we enjoy lots of veggies, fruits, whole grains and olive oil, and very little red meat. We prefer vegetarian entrees, but when we do choose to eat meat, it’s usually chicken or fish… more often chicken.
Because of our Mediterranean inclinations, I’m always coming up with new and creative ways to prepare chicken. I developed this recipe back in 2013 to use up those leftover olives in the refrigerator. After marinating and roasting, the chicken turned out just lovely… aromatic, herby, juicy and full of flavor. The marinade created delectable olive-laden pan drippings, so I skimmed the fat, added white wine, and whipped up a delicious sauce. It would make a great weeknight recipe, and it’s even special enough for a holiday meal. Try it and let me know what you think!
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Food Photography Beauty Shots & Styling by Louise Mellor
Mediterranean Olive Chicken
- 3/4 cup chopped ripe green olives
- 1/3 cup extra virgin olive oil
- 2 tbsp fresh lime juice
- 1 tbsp crushed garlic
- 2 tsp honey
- 1/2 tsp lime zest
- 1/2 tsp red pepper flakes (if sensitive to spice, omit)
- 1/2 tsp dried oregano
- Salt and pepper
- 4-5 lbs chicken pieces, bone in, skin on (I like using chicken thighs)
- 1/4 cup dry white wine
- 2 tsp cornstarch or potato starch (use potato starch for Passover)
- In a mixing bowl, whisk together the chopped olives, olive oil, lime juice, garlic, honey, lime zest, red pepper flakes and oregano. Season the marinade with salt and pepper to taste.
- Sprinkle the chicken pieces lightly with salt and pepper. Place chicken pieces in a 9x13 ceramic or glass baking dish. Brush the pieces evenly with olive marinade, using all of the marinade to coat.
- Cover the baking dish with plastic wrap and place it in the refrigerator for at least 2 hours, up to overnight (overnight is best).
- Preheat oven to 375 degrees F. Remove the plastic wrap and cover the baking dish with parchment or foil. If using foil, pierce a few vents with a sharp knife around the outer edges. If using parchment, simply cover the dish loosely.
- Place the covered dish in the oven. Let the chicken bake for 60 minutes, then remove the parchment or foil and cook for an additional 15-30 minutes, basting periodically, until well cooked and tender. At the end of cooking, you may broil it for a minute or two to brown the skin-- watch carefully to make sure it doesn't burn!
- Transfer chicken pieces to a platter. Carefully tip the baking dish so that the pan drippings and juices gather in one corner. Use a spoon to skim off the clear liquid fat, separating it from the solid drippings. Discard the fat.
- Pour the remaining drippings into a small saucepan along with ¼ cup of white wine. Heat the sauce slowly over medium.
- While sauce is heating, whisk together 1 tbsp cornstarch or 2 tsp potato starch and 2 tbsp water till smooth. Pour the starchy liquid into the saucepan and whisk until combined. Heat the sauce until bubbling and thickened.
- Serve the chicken topped with warm sauce. Note: this recipe is kosher for Passover if you use potato starch and Passover-approved products with a kosher hechsher.
Other Great Recipe Ideas
The Pioneer Woman: Herb Roasted Whole Chicken
Tasty Kitchen: Chipotle Grilled Chicken Tacos
Recipe Girl: Cilantro Chicken
Kalyn’s Kitchen: Chicken Souvlaki
Leite’s Culinaria: Peruvian Roast Chicken