Asking me to cook without butter for a dinner party is a tall order indeed, but fortunately one misses neither butter nor cheese in this dish because of the richness of the olives. I am including the recipe as it was written, but I will make adjustments next time. For example, 2lbs of green olives is a bit excessive. Even after finishing the leftovers I have tons of olives left in the dish. One pound is probably needed at a minimum though. Imagine the funny looks I got at the supermarket as I was clearing the olive bar of picholines!
Chicken smothered in cracked green olives
Serves 6 to 8
4 lbs chicken legs and thighs
2 large onions
3T olive oil
1 T chopped garlic
1t. ground ginger
1t. black pepper
½ t. ground cumin
½ t. paprika
pinch of saffron
¼ t. chopped green coriander (cilantro)
3 c. water
2 lbs. Green cracked olives (greek or Moroccan cracked or French picholine)
1/3 c. fresh lemon juice or more to taste
whole wheat pita
Trim fat off of chicken. Cut up 1 ½ onions and chopped finely. Press through strainer to drain excess liquid. Measure ¾ c. and discard the rest. Thinly slice remaining half of onion.
In a 5 qt casserole blend oil, garlic, ginger, pepper, cumin, paprika, and saffron into a paste. Stir in chopped onions and cilantro. Stir while adding 3 cups of water. Add chicken and bring to boil. Reduce heat to low and simmer covered for 20 min.
Drop olives into boiling water, simmer 1 min, then drain.
Preheat oven to 450.
Remove chicken from casserole and place on a baking sheet. Bake on upper shelf of oven for 15 min. or until meat is fully cooked and skin is lightly crisp.
Add reserved onion slices and olives to casserole. Simmer 15 min. Add lemon juice to taste. Season w/ salt if needed.
Remove chicken to a serving platter and cover w/ olives and sauce and serve w/ warm triangles of pita bread.