Whenever my parents entertained, my mother served one of her party dishes, a short list of easy-to-cook chicken (always chicken) dinners with a wow factor. She never made those dishes for everyday dinners, only for parties. I'm not sure why, but that's how she rolled. Mother would have added this Spanish chicken to the party list, because it's really easy on the cook (though it looks complicated), and it's beautiful on the plate. I want you to enjoy it on a weeknight, for lunch, for no particular occasion, or even on a picnic. The wow factor comes from a pinch of saffron, and some smoked paprika (pimentón), which is much easier to find these days, even in the grocery store. Smoked paprika comes in several degrees of heat; dulce (sweet, with no heat) is the most common, but if you can find picante (hot), that's the one I like to use here. This is not a hot and spicy recipe, and I know that, even if you think you don't like hot food, you'll miss the slight bit of hot paprika if it's not there. If you can't find picante, use regular smoked paprika and add the tiniest pinch of cayenne. Put this dish on your party list, and on your everyday list, too.
Spanish chicken with saffron and green olives
From the pantry, you'll need: onion, garlic, saffron, canned chopped tomato, hot smoked paprika (picante), cumin, chicken broth, olives, sherry vinegar, kosher salt.
Serves 6; can be doubled.
6 boneless, skinless chicken thighs
1 tsp ground cumin
1/2 tsp hot smoked paprika (pimentón picante)
1/2 tsp kosher salt
1/4 tsp fresh black pepper
2 Tbsp olive oil
2 cups chicken broth, low-sodium storebought or homemade
1/4 tsp saffron threads
1 medium onion, diced
1 red bell pepper, diced
1 cup canned chopped tomato
1 cup large green olives with pimiento, halved
1-2 Tbsp sherry vinegar, to taste
1/2 cup chopped cilantro
1 Tbsp cornstarch mixed with 2 Tbsp water
Trim excess fat from the chicken thighs, and place them in a mixing bowl. Add the cumin, smoked paprika, salt and pepper, and rub the chicken all over with the spices. Set aside at room temperature for 20 minutes.
Heat the olive oil in a large frying pan over low-medium heat, and brown the chicken on all sides, 3-4 minutes. Do not cook it all the way through; you'll finish cooking it later. Remove the chicken to a clean bowl and set aside.
To the oil in the pan, add the onion and bell pepper. While they are cooking, place the chicken broth and saffron in a microwave-safe bowl or measuring cup, and heat in the microwave for 2 minutes.
When the onion is translucent, add to the pan the chicken broth and canned tomato. Bring to the simmer, and cook for 15 minutes, until the liquid is reduced by half.
Then, add the chicken pieces and olives. Turn the chicken over in the liquid to coat, cover the pan, and simmer on low heat for 10 minutes. Uncover the pan, raise the heat to medium, and add the sherry vinegar. Taste, and add salt and pepper if needed.
With the liquid simmering, pour in the cornstarch mixture to thicken the sauce slightly. Then, add the cilantro, and remove the pan from heat.
Serve hot, over rice.
More chicken dishes for a party:
Chicken and spaghetti squash casserole with bell peppers, olives and cheese, from The Perfect Pantry
Caribbean chicken curry with butternut squash and red bell pepper, from The Perfect Pantry
Chicken marbella, from Simply Recipes
Easy chicken parmesan, from A Food Centric Life
Marinate-all-day Greek lemon chicken, from Kalyn's Kitchen
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