With the arrival of spring comes the desire for different tastes, lighter fare and less cooking time in the kitchen. For me, it also arouses a desire for tastes of the Mediterranean, of southern Italy and the flavorful versatility of poultry. Olive Chicken takes all of this into account and is an immensely pleasing dish on a number of levels. From the chicken lover that wants to eat right off the bone to the fine dining party where superior flavor and presentation are a must, this dish will deliver the goods. Olive Chicken is a melding of flavors that truly speaks of the Mediterranean to me. The chicken takes on the flavors of the garlic and bay leaf. The olives soften and sweeten in the pan and mix perfectly with the toasted nutty flavors of the pine nuts. Eat it with knife and fork or just eat it with your hands, but what you must make sure of is that you are ready to supply your guest with seconds – yes, it’s that good.
Meet Chef Eric GuidoAfter working in the New York City restaurant scene, Eric Guido branched out, organizing private dining and tasting events centered around Italian cuisine and wine. Here he began to incorporate food photography and recipe development. His continuing work can be seen at www.theviptable.net. Eric’s passion for food and wine is fueled by the togetherness and satisfaction found at the table.
Now what about sides? A sauté of broccoli rabe and a quick polenta will do the trick by both contrasting and fortifying the flavors of the olive chicken and by creating a canvas of flavors and colors to wow the senses. The best thing about these three items is that you can easily create this entire meal in three pans on your stovetop. All you need is to take the time to prep your ingredients beforehand and to plan each dish around the cooking time of the other two.
When it came time to pick the wine, I decided to go with a bottle I’ve tasted and loved before – and now I’ve reassured myself that my affections were not misplaced. There’s something about Sangiovese and olives that I love. Maybe it’s the herbal earthiness and salinity from the olives that complete the perfect taste profile when mixed with the taut focused fruit and lively acidity of a good Sangiovese. In the case of this wine, it’s also the deft use of just the right amount of oak, where the wine is given a lift of body and a velvety mouth feel that creates a perfect structure and balance. I’m very happy to share this wine with you and strongly urge you to try it, and if you have the chance, it’s perfect with the Olive Chicken.
The 2006 Piaggia Carmignano Il Sasso shows a ruby red color in the glass with aromas of black cherry, lavender and herbs, lead pencil and just the right amount of toasty oak. On the palate, I found juicy blackberry with a citrus twinge, followed by cedar on a well-structured frame with balanced acidity. Citrus and sour cherry show on the medium long finish and mix perfectly with the juicy earthiness of the Olive Chicken. It's palate cleansing and lends a wonderful contrast to the toasty flavors of the pine nuts and polenta.