Roast Chicken with Pancetta and Olives

This roast chicken with pancetta and olives and garlic from Gourmet magazine is braised in white wine to keep the chicken tender. A LOT of folks are calling it the best chicken recipe they’ve ever made.

Tray of roast chicken pieces with pancetta, olives, and garlic cloves.

This simple chicken recipe with pancetta and olives and garlic is what folks are calling “One of the best chicken recipes ever!” and “crisp-skinned” and “juicy” and “aromatic” and “easy” and “heavenly.” (It’s traditionally made with rabbit, which is lovely, too.) You can use a whole chicken cut into pieces or you could use all thighs or drumsticks if you prefer.–Renee Schettler

What Wine Do I Serve With Roast Chicken?

Pondering whether to uncork a bottle of red or white? We’d just as soon open a bottle of each. Gourmet Magazine’s recommended pours for this chicken recipe include, for the white, a Fattoria le Pupille Poggio Argentato ($20), “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 ($19). Don’t forget to take a sip of each and tell us which you prefer with this dish.

Roast Chicken With Pancetta and Olives

  • Quick Glance
  • (14)
  • 25 M
  • 1 H, 30 M
  • Serves 8
4.9/5 - 14 reviews
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Preheat the oven to 450°F (232°C). Adjust the oven rack to the center position.

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.

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. Originally published October 22, 2012.

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    • Most of the time when you buy a package of bone-in, skin-on chicken, you get 8 pieces. But for this recipe, you need the chicken cut into 10 to 12 pieces. So once you get home, you’ll need to grab a cleaver or very sturdy knife and cut each chicken breast half crosswise through the bone into 2 equal pieces or, if your chicken breasts are exceptionally large, into 3 pieces. This makes the chicken breast pieces closer in size to the thighs and drumsticks to ensure even cooking. Or you can buy a whole chicken and chop it entirely up yourself, which tends to be less expensive than buying an already may wish to cut the chicken into pieces. To do this, 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 with a sweet smile. If your store even has a butcher. Don’t forget to ask him to keep the backbone and neck for you, which can be stashed in the freezer for a future batch of chicken stock.

    Recipe Testers' Reviews

    This roast chicken with pancetta and olives is superb! It positively explodes with flavor—the briny olives, crisp pancetta, soft roasted garlic, crunchy chicken, and the white wine and drippings pan sauce that makes itself. Oh, it’s heavenly! I’m looking for an excuse to have company over so I can wow them with this dish.

    I had to cook the chicken a bit longer for the skin to brown (I ended up moving it up a bit in my oven to be closer to the top heat source).

    This was absolutely delicious! The aroma of the chicken, fresh herbs, pancetta, wine, and garlic filled the kitchen. I served this for dinner with friends over the weekend and everyone loved the way the salty pancetta and olives complemented the chicken and herbs.

    The roasting time was just perfect and basting the chicken with white wine ensured that each piece of chicken stayed moist. If you’re squeamish about cutting up a chicken, you can always ask your butcher to do this for you. Also, I only cut the breast into 4 pieces rather than 6, as the chickens I get from my meat farm share aren’t as huge as the ones found in conventional supermarkets.


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    1. Great recipe with good suggestions from the Reviews. Used bacon and added with the olives. Only used thighs, but the flavors were great. Did use around a cup and a half of wine, and topped over the thighs as they cooked. It’s worthy of serving to guests, but simple enough for a weeknight meal.

      1. Thanks so much, Steve. We so appreciate you taking the time to share this with us.

    2. Delicious meal- tasty and easy to make. We made a sauce from the juice with a little flour and milk to go with it- we didn’t have black olives but used kalamata olives and was great!

    3. Just amazing, this is now our go-to dish when we have company, and everyone raves about it afterwards

    4. I noted that this dish can also be made with rabbit. I happen to have a cut-up rabbit in my freezer and this seems a perfect recipe to try. My question is if I need to do anything different or reduce the cooking time to keep the rabbit meat from drying out, as when using chicken the skin is left on.

      1. Deborah, sounds like serendipity! The original recipe from Gourmet magazine did not make any modifications for using rabbit. I believe the wine will keep the rabbit sufficiently moist, although you could keep an eye on it and if it seems to be drying out, loosely cover the pan with aluminum foil. Kindly let us know how it goes!

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