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Roast Chicken with Pancetta and Olives

This simple, savory chicken is roasted with pancetta, garlic, and olives but stays moist in a shallow bath of white wine. (It’s traditionally made with rabbit, which is lovely, too.) Because a whole chicken tends to be less expensive than chicken parts, you may wish to cut the chicken into pieces yourself. This recipe requires the chicken be hacked into 10 to 12 pieces rather than the usual 8. Use a sharp, heavy knife to first remove the wings. Then separate the drumsticks from the thighs. Halve the breast portion of the hen along the backbone, then use a sharp, heavy knife to cut each half crosswise through the bone into 2 relatively equal pieces or, if your chicken breasts are exceptionally large, into 3 pieces. Yes, you can instead ask the butcher to do this for you, but don’t forget to ask for the backbone, which can be stashed in the freezer for a rainy day chicken stock. If this is all just too much for you to process, this recipe works just as well with those 6 pounds of prepackaged, bone-in, skin-on thighs or breasts–though you will still have to cut those chicken breasts down to size.–The Editors of Gourmet

LC What to Pour Note

Pondering whether to uncork a bottle of red or white? We’d just as soon follow the lead of the editors at the late, great Gourmet and open a bottle of each. Gourmet’s recommended pours include, for the white, a Fattoria le Pupille Poggio Argentato ($15), “a blend of traminer and sauvignon blanc, a zippy bright, minderal-laden white that hails from the Tuscan region.” As for the red, they opted for a budget-friendly, less-complex Sangiovese produced by a top-flight brunello producer but made from the vineyard’s younger vines and labeled Talenti Rosso di Montalcino ($14). Don’t forget to take a sniff and a sip of each and tell us which you prefer with this dish.

Roast Chicken with Pancetta and Olives Recipe

  • Quick Glance
  • 25 M
  • 1 H, 30 M
  • Serves 8

Ingredients

  • 2 chickens or rabbits (about 3 1/2 pounds each), cut into 10 to 12 pieces (see note above)
  • 1/4 cup extra-virgin olive oil
  • 1 1/2 tablespoons chopped fresh thyme
  • 1 tablespoon chopped fresh rosemary
  • 1 to 2 teaspoons fine sea salt (or less if using particularly salty olives)
  • 1/2 to 1 teaspoon hot red pepper flakes (optional)
  • 1 teaspoon black pepper
  • 10 garlic cloves, peeled
  • 2 thick slices pancetta or bacon, cut into 1/2- to 1-inch pieces (about 1/4-inch-thick slices or 4 ounces total)
  • 1 cup dry white wine
  • 24 black olives, pitted if desired

Directions

  • 1. Preheat the oven to 450°F (232°C) and adjust the oven rack to the center position.
  • 2. In a large bowl, toss the chicken with the oil, thyme, rosemary, sea salt, red pepper flakes, if using, and black pepper, rubbing the mixture all over the chicken.
  • 3. Arrange the chicken pieces, skin side up, in a single layer on a large rimmed baking sheet. Scatter the garlic and pancetta or bacon around the chicken on the baking sheet. Roast until the chicken begins to brown, about 20 minutes. Dribble the wine over the chicken and roast for 8 minutes more. Scatter the olives around the chicken and roast until the skin is golden brown and crisp and the meat is cooked and tender, 15 to 20 minutes more. (If the chicken pieces are particularly large, allow a few extra minutes.) Let the chicken rest on the baking sheet for 10 minutes before serving. If desired, spoon some of the pan juices over the chicken. And if using unpitted olives, you may wish to offer a word of warning to guests.
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