In the writeup for the recipe, Perelman says she had doubts about the grapes and olives roasted together, but as soon as I read the title I knew it would work. As promised, the saltiness of the olives tempered the sweetness of the grapes, while the grapes’ sweetness mellowed the salty tang of the grapes. The alchemy is undeniable.
True to Perelman’s title, something about this combination evokes the harvest. Not just any harvest, though: For me, this dish conjured a perfect fall day in a Tuscan vineyard, surrounded by lush greenery, slanting sunlight, and grapes heavy on the vine. (Yeah, I’ve never been there, but now it feels like I have.) It has just that stunning, perfect simplicity you’d expect from a European farm kitchen cooking with the seasons – but everything in this dish is readily available year-round, in your regular grocery store. Though if you don’t want to pay an exorbitant price for rosemary in a plastic packet, I hear you and encourage you to try the dish without; I’m sure it will still be grand.
Not only are the ingredients easily accessible, the process is easy and quick. You can be done with this from start to finish, plates on the table and forks in hand, in less time than that whole chicken would spend in the oven. A dish that whisks you away to Tuscany, inexpensively and quickly enough for a weeknight? You bet I’m in.
Roast Chicken Thighs with Grapes and Olives
Serves: 4 to 6 Time: 45 minutes Hands-on: 25 mnutes
3 pounds chicken thighs, with skin and bones
1.5 tablespoons minced fresh rosemary, divided
1 teaspoon kosher salt (or 3/4 teaspoon table salt)
Freshly ground pepper
1/2 cup white wine
1/2 cup chicken broth
1 tablespoon olive oil
1 cup seedless grapes, any color
1 cup Kalamata or Nicoise olives, pits removed
2 shallots, thinly sliced, or 1/4 cup minced red onion
1 tablespoon whipping cream, optional
Heat the oven to 400. Place a heavy 12-inch ovenproof skillet (not nonstick) over medium heat and let heat for 5 minutes.
While the skillet heats, mix half a tablespoon minced rosemary with the salt and pepper. Blot the chicken skin with paper towels if it’s wet, then sprinkle the chicken with the salt mixture. Combine the wine, chicken broth, and remaining tablespoon of rosemary, and set aside to steep.
Drizzle the oil into the hot pan, then add half the chicken, skin side down. Let the chicken cook, without moving it, for about 3 to 5 minutes. You want the skin to be golden bronze, starting to crisp, and releasing easily from the pan. Turn and cook the other side for 2 to 3 minutes. Repeat with the other half of the chicken, adding a little more oil first if the pan seems too dry.
Return the chicken to the pan, skin side up, and surround with the grapes, olives, and shallots. Leave as much of the chicken skin exposed as you can, to encourage browning. Place the skillet in the oven and roast until the chicken is thoroughly cooked, about 20 minutes. (The juices should run clear – or, even better, check with a thermometer. The chicken is done when the reading from several places is 165 or higher.)
Remove the chicken, grapes, and olives to a warm plate; set the skillet, with any drippings, over high heat on the stove. Pour in the wine mixture and stir to pull up any flavorful brown bits from the pan. Let boil rapidly until reduced by half. Turn off heat and stir in the tablespoon of cream, if desired. Serve the chicken with the sauce underneath or alongside (to keep the skin crisp) and garnish with rosemary sprigs, if desired. This is nice with roasted potatoes.