As the days begin to lengthen, and the air in my garden is perfumed with spring’s heady scent of delicate, pink petals from trees in bloom, naturally, my thoughts turn to Sherry. Don’t yours? Surrounded by scent, I’m inspired to cook with wines which will bring out the deepest flavors in a meal. This classic pairing of roast chicken, sweet oranges and buttery green olives celebrates spring and the burgeoning of summer, with color, warmth, and vibrancy you can taste in its smoky sweetness.
Roast Chicken with Sherry and Oranges Recipe
4 T olive oil
4 lbs bone-in chicken breasts and thighs, the ratio of white to dark meat depending on your preference
1 cup diced sweet yellow onion
2 large garlic cloves, minced
1 cup medium Sherry
Note: Stephanie Davis, Certified Sommelier, of Winacea (providing Wine Education, Entertainment, and Illumination), recommends preparing this dish with an Amontillado Sherry. Stephanie instructs us, “Amontillados are . . . slightly sweet. . .with fine acidity, and integrated hazelnut flavors and aromas.”
1 cup low-salt chicken stock
1 orange, halved lengthwise, each half cut into six wedges
1/3 cup brine-cured green olives, (such as castelvestrano), pitted
2 T fresh oregano leaves, stripped from their stems
1 T honey
Preheat oven to 425°F.
Pat chicken pieces dry, and sprinkle with salt and pepper. (Drying the chicken allows for better browning.) Heat oil in a large ovenproof skillet over medium-high heat. Add chicken to skillet, skin side down and cook until skin is crisped and brown, and turns easily. Let it take its time! Turn and brown the other side. Remove chicken to a large, clean bowl.
Add onions and stir until softened and beginning to brown, about 2 minutes. Add garlic and stir for 30 seconds. Add Sherry and bring to boil until liquid is reduced by half, scraping up browned bits. Add chicken stock and bring to boil. Return chicken to skillet, skin side up, along with any juices collected in bowl. Nestle orange wedges and olives among chicken pieces. Transfer to oven and braise covered until chicken is cooked through and no longer pink, about 35 minutes. Carefully remove skillet from oven (wear oven mitts, it will be hot!), and gently transfer chicken pieces to a clean bowl with tongs.
Add oregano leaves to sauce in skillet. Bring to boil over high heat. Stir in honey and boil until thickened, about 5 minutes. Season with salt and pepper to taste.
Serve chicken over rice or couscous, spooning sauce, oranges and olives over chicken.
Stephanie Davis, Certified Sommelier of Winacea, says that her first inclination (when she began salivating while reading the recipe), is to serve the same Sherry used to prepare it. One of her favorite Sherry producers is Bodegas Dios Baco. She suggests an Amontillado. Serve slightly chilled, but not cold. Bonus: After opening, the wine can be kept for up to 2 weeks, corked and refrigerated!
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