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Easy-peasy chicken Riviera style

Tonight we’re having chicken done in the style of the Italian Riviera, that stretch of craggy coast we can see way down below. Hereabouts this recipe is supposed to be made with rabbit, and is called coniggio a-a carlonn-a or coniggio a-a sanremasca or coniglio alla ligure for those who prefer proper Italian to Genoese dialect. Replace “coniggio” or “coniglio” with “pollo”—chicken—and you have a dish that’s doable anywhere, even in countries where Bunny is a pet.

Interestingly, the term “a-a carlonn-a” basically means that even an idiot can make this dish. Chicken for Dummies.

Put in the simplest of terms, for dinner we’re having chicken parts fricaséed with herbs, pine nuts, olives, white wine, and olive oil.

Here’s what you need to make Ligurian chicken for 4 hungry souls:

A 2.5-pound free-range chicken cut into parts
An onion, big or small
A fistful of pitted green olives
Two fistfuls of pitted black olives, preferably taggiasca olives from Liguria but anything will do
A fistful of pine nuts
A couple of cloves of fresh garlic
Half a dozen sprigs of thyme or, better, fresh rosemary
A cup of dry white wine
A couple of tablespoons of excellent, extra virgin olive oil
A pinch each of salt and pepper

There are 1,001 ways to make this dish, and the truth is, it comes out great any way you do it. In my now antique cookbook Enchanted Liguria, I give a complicated recipe with guaranteed great results. But the following method is nearly as good, and a lot more straightforward. The essential thing is to pour off the chicken fat.

tktk cover image, see liguria2
No worries—it’s out of print.

Here goes:
1) Brown or sear your chicken parts over high heat in a big nonstick skillet, turning twice, about 5 minutes. Pour off the grease.
2) Meanwhile, use a sharp knife or a mezzaluna to mince together the onion, the green and black olives, the pine nuts, the garlic, and the herbs.
3) Toss the mixture in with the de-greased chicken parts, pour in the wine and let the alcohol evaporate, stirring occasionally, about 4 minutes. Add the salt and pepper.
4) Reduce the heat to a minimum and simmer, covered, for about 45 minutes. Add hot water (or chicken broth) if it looks like the chicken is getting dry. You want plenty of sauce, because you’re going to serve this with potatoes—boiled, mashed, baked, whatever. And don’t let anyone tell you that the Ligurians don’t eat potatoes. They do, and how.

Make your chicken ahead and it’s even better the next day. We didn’t, but we’re not worried. The leftovers will be delicious tomorrow.

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Published inFood Wine Italian Riviera

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