Chicken with Oranges and Olives [Recipe]
The combination might sound a tiny bit odd, but this is a deliciously clean and nourishing midweek supper. The contrast of sweet oranges and bitter olives has a warmth and freshness which are simply beguiling. The dish has Nigel Slater written all over it, and is in fact lifted from Real Fast Food, the book that launched that writer's career. Like so many of the recipes in that brilliant volume, this one can be made up almost entirely from a good storecupboard. The only minor change I made this time was to cook the parsley stalks in the sauce. I suggest a few further alternatives I've had success with at the end of the recipe.
2 chicken legs
2 tbsps olive oil
8 destoned black olives (Slater suggests 12, but I think 8 is plenty)
250ml chicken stock
2 small oranges or 1 large one, the juicier the better
Small bunch flat-leaf parsley, leaves and stalks separated, both finely chopped
Fresh thyme leaves
In a heavy pan or casserole, heat the oil and half the butter. Brown the seasoned chicken legs on both sides. Let them take on as much as colour as possible - they'll bring the dish its deepest flavour. While the chicken's cooking, segment and peel the oranges, reserving all the juice you can. When the chickens are nicely browned, pour in the stock. (I pour out most of the fat just before, although Slater doesn't call for it.) Add the olives, oranges, thyme and parsley stalks, and simmer on a low heat for 15-20 minutes.
When the chicken's done, remove it from the pan and keep it warm. Turn up the heat and bubble the sauce fiercely to reduce by half. Whisk in the rest of the butter and correct the seasoning. Serve the chicken with the sauce poured over it, garnished with the rest of the parsley.
I've served this with noodles and also with lemony bulghur wheat before, but a mixture of wild and basmati rice favours the dish particularly well. In the past, I've added fresh spinach to the sauce towards the end of the reducing, which is a clean, green addition. Chestnut mushrooms, chopped and fried with the chicken, work well. As you might expect, given a certain once-trendy combo, this is equally good with duck.