Chicken with Cracked Olives and Herbs ~ this is a fabulous one pot meal in the vibrant healthy Mediterranean tradition, it’s so easy to throw together, and it bursts with sunny flavor!
This rustic Mediterranean style chicken with cracked olives combines ease of preparation with lots of intense flavor. I think it’s a real season spanner ~ pop it on the outdoor grill in summer, or slide it into an extra hot (450F) oven when you want a cozy meal in mid-winter. The chicken is rubbed with a zesty mix of aromatic spices and finished off with citrusy olives and herbs. Whatever the season, make sure you’ve got fresh herbs on hand for this recipe, dried won’t do.
Even if you aren’t lucky enough to have an herb garden, visit your local nursery every few weeks and pick up potted herbs to keep on your kitchen counter, they’ll be cheaper and last much longer than anything you can get at the grocery store.
it starts with a spice rub
My chicken with cracked olives gets its first layer of flavor from a unique spice rub. The rub is an interesting blend of dried peppers with fresh minced rosemary. It gives the chicken and intense flavor and color.
- fresh garlic
- Aleppo pepper
- fresh rosemary
- olive oil
It’s a Mediterranean type of pepper that has a sweet/fruity flavor with a nice kick of heat. It has similarities to ancho chile powder, and to paprika. You can substitute smoked paprika, but add some cayenne for heat. You can find Aleppo pepper in some specialty stores, I found it at World Market, and you can buy it on Amazon, HERE.
what are cracked olives?
Cracked olives are olives that have been ‘cracked’ or split open before curing ~ the process allows the brine to penetrate quicker. Look for them in your supermarket’s olive bar, or substitute any green olive that you love. I love them for their rustic look and juicy flavor.
If you can’t find cracked olives, use your favorite green variety and give them a tear by hand to release their flavor and open them up. If they have pits, put them under a clean dish towel and rap them ~ gently ~ with a hammer. It sounds a little odd, and my husband thought I was insane, but it works! Be sure to warn diners about pits.
roasting chicken with cracked olives
The high heat of the grill or oven gives this chicken great color, and cooks it quickly, so the inside says tender and juicy. If you do use your oven, make sure to crank it up to 450F, allow enough time to preheat fully, and use a pan large enough to hold your chicken in a single layer so it can really crisp up. I love my shallow enameled cast iron casserole for this job, it cooks evenly, keeps the juices contained, and can really get nice and hot. It makes a beautiful presentation, too.
Some of the best flavors of the Mediterranean are highlighted in this healthy chicken dinner, I hope you try it! I think it would be over the top delish with some of my Homemade Pita Bread.
Make It Your Own
- You can do this with a whole chicken, roast it for approximately 20 minutes per pound. You can also use just breasts, or all thighs.
- If you don’t have Aleppo pepper, try a mixture of smoked paprika and cayenne. I also think sumac would be a nice option.
Chicken with Cracked Olives
- 4 chicken leg quarters, the whole leg, thigh and drumstick attached
- salt and fresh cracked black pepper
- olive oil for basting
olive herb mix
- lemon wedges and fresh parsley
- Salt and pepper the chicken on all sides.
- Mix the spice rub ingredients together and massage all over the chicken. Put the chicken in a large heavy casserole, making sure it’s in a single layer. Cover and let sit at room temperature for an hour. Meanwhile preheat the oven to 450F
- Mix the olives, herbs, oil, and lemon juice and set aside.
- Cook the chicken for 40 minutes, or until deep golden brown. Drizzle with olive oil at least twice during the baking to get a crisp golden skin. A thermometer inserted between the leg and thigh should read 160F. Cover loosely with foil and let rest for 15 minutes.
- Serve the chicken topped with the olive mixture and some fresh parsley sprinkled on top.