By Cat, Nov 2011 (Photo, right, from Wikimedia Commons)
This is a Mediterranean dish similar to a Moroccan tagine, but with Italian flavors. The original recipe uses a crock pot or other slow-cooker; alternately you can use a covered casserole in a slow oven, or braise in a saucier or Dutch oven on stove top. It is a very easy recipe.
This dish would be good with chicken thighs as in the source recipe, or with a mix of chicken pieces, or butterflied/halved game hens. The original is served with steamed rice, but it would also be delicious with steamed couscous.
See also: 1. Roasting a Bird (About); 2. Brining Chicken or Butterflying & Brining Game Hen; 3. Slow Roasting/Braising Chicken (About); 4. Brown or White Rice; 5. Couscous, Steamed; 6. Herbs & Spices: Blends – Italian Seasoning
Dried Plum and Olive Chicken
This recipe is adapted form Better Homes and Gardens magazine, Sept 2011 issue (1), and is cooked in a crock pot or other slow cooker. The recipe resembles a Moroccan tagine.
My changes to the original:
- Use canned pimientos and traditional brined green olives instead of pimiento-stuffed canned green olives;
- Reduce amount of honey;
- Make my own Italian seasoning from fresh herbs (in summer) or dried herbs the rest of the year. See Herbs & Spices: Blends – Italian Seasoning for my herb mixture.
- To serve 4 instead of 6.
Ingredients & Equipment for Full Recipe:
Serves 4; see below for half recipe ingredients
- Full recipe (serves 4):
- 4 chicken legs (drumsticks & thighs), and 4 wings, or mix of chicken pieces (if you use breasts, brine for 30 minutes, then rinse and pat dry before cooking); or 2 game hens, butterflied and brined 2 hours, then rinse and pat dry before cookin.
- ¼ tsp unrefined sea salt (omit if brine chicken pieces or game hen)
- ¼ tsp freshly ground black pepper
- ¾ cup pitted, dried plums (prunes) or mixed dried fruit
- ¾ cup brined green olives
- 1 Tbsp chopped canned pimientos (optional)
- 2 Tbsp capers
- 1 Tbsp dried & crushed or 2 Tbsp fresh chopped Italian herb mix (See Cat’s Italian Seasoning, below, or Herbs & Spices: Blends)
- ¼ cup chopped onion
- 2 cloves garlic, minced
- 1 large bay leaf or 2 small ones
- 1¼ cup homemade chicken stock
- 1 – 3 Tbsp honey (I use only 2 tsp for full recipe or 1 tsp for one game hen, because I’m sugar-sensitive)
- 3 Tbsp apple cider vinegar
- 2 cups steamed brown or white rice
- Half recipe (serves 2)
- 2 chicken legs (drumsticks & thighs), and 2 wings, or mix of chicken pieces (if you use breasts, brine for 30 minutes, then rinse and pat dry before cooking); or 1 game hen, butterflied and brined 2 hours, then rinse and pat dry before cooking.
- ⅛ tsp unrefined sea salt (omit if brine chicken pieces or game hen)
- ¼ tsp freshly ground black pepper
- ⅓ cup pitted, dried plums (prunes) or mixed dried fruit
- ⅓ cup brined green olives
- 1 tsp chopped canned pimientos (optional)
- 1 Tbsp capers
- 1 ~ 2 tsp dried & crushed or 1 Tbsp fresh chopped Italian herb mix (See Cat’s Italian Seasoning, below, or Herbs & Spices: Blends)
- 2 Tbsp chopped onion
- 1 clove garlic, minced
- 1 medium bay leaf
- ¾ cup homemade chicken stock
- 1 Tbsp honey (I use only 1 tsp because I’m sugar-sensitive)
- 1½ Tbsp apple cider vinegar
- 1 cup steamed brown or white rice
- Cat’s Italian Herb Mix: (using fresh or dried herbs; see also Herbs & Spices: Blends)
- 2 parts each marjoram, oregano, parsley;
- 2 parts basil (optional)
- 1 part each thyme and rosemary;
- black pepper & red pepper flakes to taste
- 3 – 4 quart covered slow cooker, covered oven-proof casserole dish, oven-proof Dutch oven, or saucier (for stove-top)
- pot for steaming rice
- Prep: Cut each leg into 2 pieces and place with wings in slow cooker. If using mixed chicken pieces, cut apart as drumsticks, thighs, wings and half-breasts (cut in half again, crosswise if they are large); brine breast pieces if using (optional). If using game hens, butterfly and brine 1 – 2 hours. Sprinkle with pepper and salt, but do not salt brined pieces.
- In small saucepan, combine honey and stock; warm over medium-low heat, whisking occasionally until the honey melts and dissolves. Remove from heat and add vinegar.
- Place chicken/hens in slow cooker, Dutch oven or saucier; add plums, olives, capers, herbs, onion and garlic. Pour stock, honey & vinegar mixture over all.
- Braise: If using slow cooker, cover with lid and cook on low heat setting for 5 – 6 hours. If slow-cooking in oven, first bring mixture to simmer on top of stove, then cover and transfer to preheated 250° – 275°F oven; cooking time depends on oven temperature, 3 – 5 hours. If cooking on stove-top, cover saucier/Dutch oven and continue to simmer (use simmer plate), about 2 hours til done. See Slow Roasting/Braising Chicken (About) for more info.
- Rice: Toward the end of the cooking time, prepare the rice (white rice takes about 15 – 20 minutes; brown rice takes about 50 – 60 minutes using my methods).
- Finish: Skim excess fat from broth; remove and discard bay leaves. Thicken sauce if desired with a buerre manie (butter & flour or starch mixed together then rolled into small balls).
- Serve with steamed rice.
11/23/14: Made half-recipe as written, using one brined game hen. After brining, let it rest in fridge to dry the skin overnight (ended up being over 2 nights). Also used dried mixed fruit (plums, apples, apricots) instead of just dried plums, because I had them on hand. Seared, then added fruit, olives, pimientos, capers, onions, garlic & herbs; mixed stock with vinegar & honey (I used only ½ Tbsp honey), then poured over all, brought to slow boil and reduced to simmer (w/o simmer plate) at 4:15 PM. Added another 2 Tbsp water after the dried fruit plumped up. The hen was falling off the bones at 6:15 – 2 hours cooking time. Result: This is delicious; I served it without thickening the brothy sauce (of which there was plenty – I didn’t need to add that extra 2 Tbsp water). I can see why the original serves the dish with rice. But I’m on a low-carb eating plan so I didn’t prepare the rice. It was a bit too sweet for me, so next time I’ll use only 1 tsp honey for one game hen (I added a note in ingredients above for me).
2/15/15: Made half-recipe as adjusted (& updated) after previous testing, using only 1 tsp honey, and 1 game hen (brined 2 hours then rinsed & patted dry, and allowed to rest in fridge overnight). For herb mix, used 1 tsp each marjoram, oregano and parsley, and ½ tsp each thyme and rosemary, plus red & black pepper. Seared in saucier with 1 Tbsp lard, then simmered with fruit/veggie/herb mixture plus homemade chicken stock/vinegar as written plus smaller amount of honey for 2 hours. My honey doesn’t dissolve well, so I tried heating the stock & honey, stirring occasionally until it melted and dissolved, then I added the vinegar. That worked quite well, so I updated the instructions to include this step. Started simmer at 4:45 PM; after about 75 minutes, there was too much liquid so removed lid for about 20 minutes, then returned lid; finished at 6:45. Did not serve with rice but rather a side of leftover potato/turnip dauphinoise to use it up; also served with braised broccolini & green beans (I’d forgotten to get kale, which was my first choice). Result: Delicious! The reduced amount of honey was perfect; its sweetness moved to the background. The sauce was perfectly reduced so needed no thickening. I could have stopped cooking the hen 15 minutes earlier; the breast was just a little dry. I love the combination of the herbs, olives and fruit, and it was all quite good with the creamy dauphinoise and the braised green beans & broccolini.
- Better Homes and Gardens magazine, Sept 2011 issue; no link to original recipe available, but Food.com has a copy: food.com/recipe/dried-plum-and-olive-chicken-467040