This is my version of Barbacco restaurant’s lunch staple, braised chicken thighs with green olives and almonds.
Barbacco, an Italian trattoria in San Francisco, was close enough to my workplace that I would occasionally go and treat myself to lunch. Their braised chicken dish is something I would often order. I liked their menu and staff so much, we hired them as our caterers for our wedding! They did not disappoint, and it was the best “wedding food” I have ever had. Unfortunately, due to Covid, they are temporarily closed.
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Braised Chicken Thighs with Olives and Almonds
- 6 – 8 bone-in, skin-off chicken thighs (Note: if you use boneless thighs, reduce cooking time to 30-35 minutes)
- 1/2 cup (85 g) green olives (Castelvetrano or similar meaty olives), de-pitted or not, your choice — but warn people if you leave in the pits
- 1/2 cup (75g) toasted almonds, chopped
- 1 medium yellow onion, thinly sliced
- 2 garlic cloves, minced
- 1/2 cup (118 ml) dry white wine
- 1/4 cup (59 ml) olive brine (the juice that your olives came in)
- 1 cup (237 ml) water, chicken, or vegetable stock
- 1 heaping teaspoon smooth Dijon mustard
- 2 tablespoons olive oil
- Salt and pepper to taste
- Toast almonds in a 350 F (180C) oven for 8 minutes, or in a saucepan on the stove top over medium heat for 8 minutes, stirring frequently. Let cool and then roughly chop. Set aside
- As needed, remove skin from chicken thighs. Sprinkle both sides with salt and ground black pepper. In a large saucepan over medium-high heat, add olive oil then chicken thighs, bone side up, smooth side down in one layer. Sauté until golden brown (the thighs will let you know when they are ready to remove when they easily lift. If they stick, they have not yet browned. The underside will still be raw – you only need to brown the smooth side
- Once the thighs are browned, remove them to a plate and set aside. Lower the heat to low and add the sliced onions to the pan and sauté until translucent, about 7 minutes. Add the minced garlic in the last minute
- Add the wine and olive brine to the sauté pan with the onions. Let it come to a boil and scrape off any of the brown bits remaining on the bottom of the pan from the chicken. Add the mustard and stir thoroughly to incorporate
- Add the chicken thighs, browned side up, back to the pan and add the olives. Pour the water, or broth around the thighs. Cover and cook on low heat for 50-60 minutes. Remove the lid in the last 10 minutes to check on the liquid level. If the liquid has reduced to next to nothing, add some water or broth. If it is too liquidy, remove the lid for the last 10 minutes of cooking to let it evaporate a little. Add the chopped almonds to the sauce right before serving
- Serve chicken and sauce over thick-cut toasted rustic bread, couscous, polenta or rice.