Monday, 9 January 2017

Green Olive and Pinenut Crusted Chicken






This was a meal that exceeded my expectations, especially since I am not much of an olive eater. When my daughter moved out she was given a gift basket as a housewarming gift, and it included a jar of olives, in oil and spices, both black and green olives. She gave it to me to use....and I am doing my best.

I used most of the black olives last week, when I made Braised Chicken Thighs with Capers, Raisins and Shallots.

This recipe made use of some of the green olives, as well as a lemon and pinenuts. I made a crust with the olives and pinenuts, and used the lemon in a marinade for the chicken. I baked the chicken breasts and they were juicy, tender, full of flavour, with the added crunch from the crust. A little bit of chopping in the beginning and then it was simply a case of waiting for the chicken to bake.


To make the marinade, combine:

Zest of half a lemon
Juice of half a lemon
1 heaped tablespoon of grainy mustard
2 cloves garlic, minced
1/4 teaspoon black pepper
1/4 teaspoon salt
4 tablespoons olive oil





Pour the marinade over:

2 boneless, skinless chicken breasts

Turn to coat all over. Cover and refrigerate for at least 2 hours, or overnight.






Heat the oven to 375F while you make the crust.





Combine:

1 heaped tablespoon pinenuts, chopped
2 cloves garlic, minced
1/4 cup grated Parmesan
1/8 teaspoon ground black pepper








Chop:

8 green olives








Add the olives to the pinenuts and Parmesan, along with:

1 tablespoon chopped fresh basil







Remove the chicken breasts from the marinade, allowing any extra marinade to drip off. Discard the marinade.

Place the chicken breasts into an ovenproof dish, and divide the crust between them, pressing gently to help it stick.





Place into the oven and bake until the chicken is cooked through. this took between 35 - 40 minutes.

The chicken should remain moist, but the crust will become crisp and golden on the outside.

Remove from the oven and allow the chicken to rest for 5 minutes before serving.




I served the chicken with a basic risotto (see the post Rice ) that had grated Parmesan and chopped fresh basil stirred into it just before serving. I also added the juices from the baked chicken. Some steamed green beans, and dinner was ready!




  • If, like me, you are not a fan of olives, chopping them up certainly makes it easier to eat them. Baking them also changes the texture, and alters the flavour slightly. Another way to use olives that changes the texture of them is to make tapenade, and add it to pizza or pasta.
  • Olives that are not pitted can be a challenge if you do not have an olive pitter. This is my approach:
 
Lie the olives on their sides, and using the flat side of a knife blade, crush them. The flesh will split open and the pit can be easily removed.






  • Any olives can be used....if they are stored in brine, rinse them off in cold water to remove some of the salt, and also take care with the amount of salt that you add to the crust and marinade. If you use sundried olives, taste to check how salty they are before adding them; that way you can adjust the salt in the recipe.
  • The pinenuts do not need to be toasted; they will toast in the oven. Other nuts can be used.
  • Feel free to use other cheese such as crumbled feta, grated fontina or asiago.
  • Originally I planned to used fresh rosemary, but opted to use basil instead, as it has a shorter shelf life when it has been picked. Use whatever you have, or omit the fresh herbs.
  • The lemon zest added a brightness to the chicken, and the mustard added a bit of heat in the background. I considered using the oil that the olives were marinated in, but chose to use plain olive oil instead. Sundried tomato oil, or other flavoured oils can be used if you wish.
  • The crust would work really nicely on chicken thighs that are bone-in and skin on, as the skin would crisp along with the crust. Try using it on halibut or salmon.

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