Braised Chicken Thighs with Olives and Basil

Though it only cooks for half an hour, this dish has the satisfying, melded flavor of a long–simmered stew. Part of the explanation is that the garlic cloves are cooked whole and then mashed into the sauce. You'll always get a more mellow flavor from whole cloves than from chopped or crushed garlic.

Plus: More Chicken Recipes and Tips

  • Servings: 4


  • 1 tablespoon olive oil
  • 8 chicken thighs (about 3 pounds in all)
  • 1 teaspoon salt
  • Fresh-ground black pepper
  • 1 onion, chopped
  • 12 cloves garlic, peeled
  • 2 teaspoons chopped fresh rosemary, or 3/4 teaspoon dried rosemary
  • 1/2 cup dry white wine
  • 1/2 cup canned low-sodium chicken broth or homemade stock
  • 1 cup canned crushed tomatoes in thick puree
  • 1/3 cup halved and pitted black olives
  • 1/3 cup chopped fresh basil

How to make this recipe

  1. In a large deep frying pan, heat the oil over moderately high heat. Season the chicken with 1/2 teaspoon of the salt and 1/4 teaspoon pepper. Put the chicken in the pan and brown well on both sides, about 8 minutes in all. Remove. Pour off all but 1 tablespoon of the fat. Reduce the heat to moderately low.

  2. Add the onion and garlic and cook, stirring occasionally, until the onion starts to soften, about 5 minutes. Add the rosemary and wine. Bring to a simmer, scraping the bottom of the pan to dislodge any brown bits. Boil until the wine is reduced to approximately 1/4 cup, 1 to 2 minutes.

  3. Add the broth, tomatoes, olives, the remaining 1/2 teaspoon salt, and the chicken, skin-side up, with any accumulated juices. Cover and simmer until the chicken is just done, 20 to 25 minutes. Push the chicken to the side of the pan and then mash the garlic cloves with a fork. Stir in 1/8 teaspoon pepper and the basil, bring just to a simmer, and serve.

Suggested Pairing

Italy has three great red grapes. Nebbiolo and Sangiovese are well known, but the robust Aglianico grape deserves at least the same regard. This dish is a great opportunity to sample either of its best wines, Taurasi or Aglianico del Vulture.

Photo © Frances Janisch Published October 2012

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