Chicken with olives, fennel and capers -also known as ‘Pollo alla Siciliana’- is a great classic of Mediterranean cuisine. It is a rich main dish, full of flavour and aroma. According to the traditional recipe, it is prepared with black olives, capers from Pantelleria, tomatoes from Pachino and a touch of wild fennel. In northern Europe, however, you can prepare a very tasty version with a little fennel seed and, if you don’t have any salted capers to hand, even with capers from a jar. It is very easy to prepare and only takes about 40 minutes, so it is perfect for a last-minute dinner.
- 1 kg chicken, cut into pieces
- 200 g cherry tomatoes
- 50 g pitted black olives (about 15 -20 pieces)
- 4 tablespoons salted capers (if necessary, you can also use capers pickled in vinegar)
- 3 large garlic cloves
- 1 fresh chilli pepper or 1 teaspoon chilli flakes
- 2 teaspoons fennel seeds
- 1 handful wild fennel ‘finocchietto’, or fennel greens (optional)
- 1 glass dry white wine
- 3 tablespoons olive oil
- Put the olive oil in a fairly large pan and brown the chicken pieces in it. As soon as the chicken is golden brown, add the roughly chopped garlic cloves and the chilli and let it stew for a while.
- Wash the cherry tomatoes, cut the largest ones in half and add to the chicken.
- Then add the olives, the rinsed capers and the fennel seeds (and if you have some, some finely chopped wild fennel or fennel greens). Season to taste with salt.
- Pour in a glass of white wine, and as soon as the wine has evaporated, cover with a lid and simmer on a low heat for about 30 minutes.
- Then remove the lid and cook for another 10 minutes or so to allow the sauce to thicken a little.
- When the meat starts to separate from the bones, the dish is ready.
- Serve immediately and preferably with fresh crusty white bread.
- You can use all parts of the chicken to prepare Pollo alla Siciliana, but if you prefer, you can also use only thighs and breasts. You should not limit yourself to using only the breast, because it is drier than the rest of the meat and should therefore not be braised for so long.
- For a tasty sauce that is perfect for ‘scarpetta’ – that is, for dipping bread in – you can use a little more cherry tomatoes or even add some tomato sauce.
- You can give a twist to the recipe with some mint leaves, as an alternative to wild fennel, for a fresh and delicate taste.