This is one of the best things I've ever cooked or eaten...I took Daniel Boulud's recipe and adapted it slightly. It's one of those dishes that gives you more leftovers than you think it will, that tastes better than you think it will, that impresses your friends more than you think it will, and teaches you a lot about cooking in the process. In the photo you can see big chunks of potatoes, chicken pieces still on the bone (just barely), nicoise olives, red bell pepper...vive la provencal.
Note: using canned tomatoes saves you some time and another dirty pot. When tomatoes aren't the feature of a dish, I see no problem using canned, even in summer.
(adapted from Daniel Boulud's Cooking in New York City)
one 3- to 4-pound chicken, cut into 8 serving pieces
1/2 cup extra-virgin olive oil
salt and freshly ground pepper
2 tablespoons all-purpose flour
8 spring onions, white part with 1/2-inch of green tops
1 red bell pepper, cut into 1/2-inch thick strips
8 small Yukon Gold potatoes, peeled and cut lengthwise in quarters
1 cup dry white wine
3 cups unsalted chicken broth
1 tablespoon tomato paste
4 large tomatoes, peeled, seeded and cut into 2-inch chunks (I use canned whole tomatoes)
3 cloves garlic, peeled
1 bay leaf
1 sprig thyme
3 ounces haricots verts (or green beans), tipped and cut into 2-inch pieces
1 medium eggplant, peeled and cut into 1-inch chunks
2 medium zucchini, cut into 1-inch chunks
1/3 cup black olives, pitted (nicoise or kalamata are good for this dish)
- Warm 1/4 cup of olive oil in a large, heavy Dutch oven or casserole over medium-high heat. Season the chicken all over with salt & pepper and dust with the flour. When the oil is hot, slip the chicken pieces in and sear on all sides until well-browned about 10 minutes (I do this in two batches to avoid crowding and steaming the chicken). With all the browned chicken in the pot, add the onions, red pepper, and potatoes and stir until all the vegetables are coated with oil. Add the wine & stir the browned bits on the bottom of the pot to deglaze. Let the wine cook down until reduced by about half, and then add the stock, tomato paste, tomatoes, garlic, bay leaf and thyme and season with salt and pepper. Bring the liquid to a boil over high heat, then reduce to medium and simmer uncovered for 30 minutes.
- While the chicken cooks: Bring a medium-sized pot of salted water to a boil. Prepare a medium-sized bowl with ice-water (this is to plunge the green beans in to preserve color and texture). When the pot of water comes to a boil, drop in the green beans and boil for 3 minutes (or 4 minutes if beans are large). Immediately drain and drop the beans in the ice water; they can stay there until you need them.
- Also while the chicken cooks: Warm the remaining 1/4 cup olive oil in a large saute pan over medium-high heat. Add the eggplant and zucchini and cook until golden brown, about 8 minutes. Transfer the vegetables to paper towel-lined plates to drain. (This saute intensifies the sweetness of the vegetables and helps them keep their shape longer in the dish.)
- After the chicken has simmered for 30 minutes, add the green beans, eggplant and zucchini to the pot and cook together for 10 minutes. Stir in the olives and season with salt and pepper (taste the broth for seasoning). Discard the bay leaf and thyme spring as you find them. Serve in pasta or soup plates, with bread for dipping.
Serves 5 or 6 people who like good food.