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Yesterday, I reverted back to Eric Ripert’s beautiful recipe collection.  He had one for a chicken palliard inspired by the flavours of Chianti, Italy that I admittedly already tested out a few weeks back.  However, though on the first try the chicken turned out good, hubby politely said – there’s something missing.  I don’t know how he figured me out (or rather he knows me too well), but he was right.  I had skimped on half the ingredients since I had only the other half on hand.

So on the second time around, I decided to shop ahead for some things and follow Mr. Ripert’s recipe a bit more diligently.  The local market still lacked a few things, but I made sure that the showcase ingredients (like the fennel that I previously omitted) got featured.  And yes, for this dish, it made a difference.

Ripert’s recipe decidedly calls for a chicken palliard – thinly pounded meat which cooks very quickly.  I completed this step the first time through, but the second – we had just returned home from an afternoon hike and were sooooo hungry that I simply threw the chicken breasts into the dutch oven.  Thus, I must give up any claim to a palliard in the recipe title.  But it’s okay.  Since I reduced the number of chicken breasts in the recipe by half, the tomatoes and booze soaked prunes provided so much moisture that the cooked but un-pounded chicken remained tender and juicy.

Chicken Breasts with Tomatoes, Fennel & Olives (adapted from Eric Ripert’s Chicken Palliard with Tomatoes, Fennel & Olives)

Ingredients: (serves 2)

  • 2 skinless boneless chicken (double the serving by using 4 skinless boneless chicken breasts, butterflied and lightly pounded flat)
  • 1/2 of an onion, minced
  • 2 cloves garlic, minced
  • 1 cup tomatoes, seeded and diced
  • 3/8 pint (3/4 cup) thinly sliced fennel
  • 1/4 pint (1/2 cup) green olives, pitted and sliced
  • 1/8 pint (1/4 cup) raisins or chopped prunes, soaked in white wine or sherry
  • 1/8 pint (1/4 cup) pine nuts, toasted
  • 2 tablespoons capers
  • 1/4 pint (1/2 cup) olive oil
  • 1 tablespoon of herbs de Provence, or the leaves of 4 sprigs of fresh thyme
  • 2 tablespoons chopped parsley
  • 2 teaspoons pimenton (optional)
  • sea salt and freshly ground pepper

Place vegetable mix on top of chicken breasts and bake for 15-20 minutes.

Preheat oven to 230 degrees C (~450 degrees F).  Season the chicken breasts on both sides with salt and pepper.  Drizzle some olive oil on the bottom of a dutch oven or baking dish and place chicken inside.

In a mixing bowl combine onions, garlic, tomatoes, fennel, green olives, prunes, pine nuts, herbs de Provence, pimenton and capers.  Drizzle olive oil over the vegetables and toss to combine; season with salt and pepper to taste.

Next, cover the chicken with the vegetable/herb mixture and drizzle a little more olive oil on top. Bake in the oven for 15-20 minutes, uncovered, until the chicken is cooked through. Sprinkle the chopped parsley over the chicken and serve; I accompanied each chicken breast with a scoop of hearty quinora.

I’m in absolute adoration of this dish for not only for the wonderfully melded flavors, but ease in preparation.  On a hungry evening, rustic dishes that involve only a bit of chopping, my beloved dutch oven, and some bake time amount to pure luxury.