Southeast France is home to what is familiarly known as the Provence region. Food preparation in Provence is typically rustic and simple. At its heart are herbs, garlic, olive oil and fresh vegetables to sweeten and flavor meats cooked alongside them. Wine, typically white and dry, is essential for this cuisine. The herbs infuse intense flavor, and yet the dishes retain a light flavor profile. Classic Herbs de Provence, a blend of oregano, basil, thyme, marjoram and rosemary, can be substituted in this recipe, or you may use only the dried herbs suggested. The resulting dish is satisfying and healthy, part of what is considered the Mediterranean diet. Serve it with crusty bread to soak up the sauce.
Chicken Provençal with Tomatoes and Peppers Recipe
2 T unsalted butter
2 T olive oil
2 whole boneless, skinless chicken breasts, patted dry
1 T all-purpose flour
1 cup white pearl onions, peeled
Note: Pearl onions get a bad rap because they’re tiny and wrapped in a thin, papery skin. Peel them easily by cutting an X in the root end, drop them in a pot of boiling water for 30 seconds and then remove to a bowl filled with ice water. The papery skins should slip off quickly, leaving a perfectly smooth, elegant little onion.
1 yellow pepper, diced
1/2 cup dry white wine
2 cups low-salt chicken broth
1 cup cherry tomatoes
1 T each dried basil, marjoram and thyme
salt and pepper to taste
Warm butter and olive oil in large, heavy skillet over medium-high heat. Sprinkle chicken with salt, pepper and flour. Add chicken to skillet. Brown on both sides, about 7 minutes total, and remove to clean plate.
Add onions to skillet and brown lightly. Add yellow pepper and sauté for 2 minutes to soften. Add wine and deglaze pan, reducing wine by half. Add chicken broth and herbs to skillet and bring mixture to boil. Reduce heat to medium low. Add tomatoes to skillet and return chicken pieces and any juices accumulated on the plate to skillet. As tomatoes soften, smash gently with the back of a wooden spoon to break open and release juices.
Cover and simmer for 25 minutes, until chicken is tender and sauce has thickened enough to coat the back of a spoon.
Serve in shallow bowls with rice and bread for soaking up the sauce.
Stephanie Davis, developer of a scent-free soap so you can taste your wine and meal instead of the soap on your hands, said she could smell the sauce simmering simply by reading the recipe. And while it might be too cliché to pair this dish with a wine from Provence, do it if you’d like to. But — if you want to try something dry, supple and pink, she suggests a wine from Central Italy like Cantine Adanti Amanter Umbrian Rosato. Made from 100% Sangiovese grapes, it delivers great aromatics and a pretty-in-pink freshness. Prettily priced at $13/bottle.
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Award-winning author Emily Kemme writes about human nature, illuminating the everyday in a way that highlights its brilliance. Follow her on her blog, Feeding the Famished, https://www.facebook.com/EmilyKemme, or on Twitter @EmFeedsYou . Life inspired. Vodka tempered.
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