04 July 2012

Chicken Provençal (or, French food for the 4th of July)

Before anyone pulls out their cannons of righteous indignation at the idea of cooking a classic French dish the evening we celebrate American independence, I hasten to remind you of two things:  Firstly, the colonists were fighting for independence from Great Britain, not France; it's not as though we had bangers and mash.  Secondly, the French unofficially began helping the colonists in 1776, and they entered into a formal alliance with the signing of the Treaty of Alliance and the Franco-American Treaty of Amity and Commerce in 1778.  Many scholars believe that the colonists' defeat of Great Britain would have been much less likely if the French had not taken part.

Not to mention the fact that chicken provençal is, no matter what day it is, a delicious dish.

This is my mother-in-law's recipe; she typically serves the dish over rice, but we opted for pasta tonight, and are talking about trying it with a nice rosemary-basil focaccia next time.

Chicken Provençal
2 boneless skinless chicken breasts, halved
Black pepper
Olive oil
1 small onion, diced
3 cloves garlic, minced
0.5 c chicken broth
0.25 c dry white wine
15 oz diced tomatoes, drained, juice reserved
2 Tbsp kalamata olives, chopped
0.25 c fresh basil, chiffonade

Heat olive oil in large saucepan over medium heat.  Season both sides of each piece of chicken with black pepper and cook until browned, about three minutes on each side.  Remove to a clean plate and tent with foil to keep warm.  Add onion and garlic to olive oil and saute until onions are translucent.  Add chicken broth, wine, and tomatoes; cook until slightly thickened, about six minutes.  Reintroduce chicken and simmer until chicken is fully cooked, about four minutes.  If necessary, add reserved tomato juice (we didn't find it necessary).  Just before serving, stir in olives and basil.

UPDATE:  Just in case you're still concerned about the French-ness of our meal, we did finish the evening with a classic, all-American apple pie. :-)

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