Our kids love chicken.  I mean they really, really love it.  When I pull a roast chicken out of the oven they come running, like dogs after a meat truck, clamoring at my legs and begging for scraps.  So like any resourceful parent would, I exploit their good dispositions and use their beloved bird as a vehicle for expanding their culinary horizons.

Chicken is a willing accomplice.  Roasted with lemons and rosemary one day, glazed with soy and ginger the next, it accommodates pretty much any fruit, vegetable, herb, or spice you can think of.  This Spanish-influenced recipe, with its fairly sophisticated combination of olives and orange, was a hit in our house.  To make it truly authentic, you can substitute sherry for the white wine, if you have it.

Chicken with oranges and olives

Adapted from Epicurious

Yield:  Serves 8.

Two 3-lb. fryer chickens, cut into quarters

Salt and freshly ground black pepper, to taste

1/3 c. all-purpose flour (optional)

2 tbsp. canola oil

4 shallots, peeled and thinly sliced

3 cloves garlic, peeled and thinly sliced

1 1/2 c. dry white wine

1 1/2 c. chicken stock

1 navel orange, cut lengthwise into 10 wedges

1/2 c. pitted green olives, such as picholine

2 tbsp. honey

Preheat oven to 375 degrees.  Heat a dutch oven over medium-high heat.  Season chicken with salt and pepper, then dredge in flour (if using), tapping off excess.  Drizzle oil into pan, then add half of chicken, skin-side down.  Cook until chicken is nicely browned, about 5 minutes per side.  Remove chicken to a plate and repeat with remaining chicken.

Pour off all but 2 tbsp. fat from the pot, then add shallots and cook until softened, about 2 minutes.  Add garlic and cook, stirring, another minute or so.  Pour in wine, increase heat, and bring to a boil, scraping up browned bits from the bottom of the pot with a spoon.   Let wine reduce by half, then pour in stock and return to a boil.  Return chicken to pot (put the legs and thighs on the bottom, breasts on top), skin side up, and tuck in orange wedges and olives.  Cover the pot, put it in the oven, and bake for 25 minutes or until chicken is done.

Remove chicken to a serving plate.  Bring sauce to a boil over high heat, stir in honey, and let reduce at a rolling boil until slightly thickened, about 6-8 minutes.  Pour sauce over chicken (or return chicken to pot) and serve.  We liked it over Israeli couscous with roasted, diced butternut squash.

Note: The olives impart a slightly briny taste to the sauce — if you’d rather, you can stir them into the reduced sauce just before serving.

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