Roast Chicken with Pancetta and Olives

Wednesday, January 28, 2009


Well folks, in addition to a great recipe today, I also have another chapter for you in “The Misadventures of Accident Prawn“. Most of my friends who follow me on Twitter and Facebook have already heard that I have had yet another little “mishap” involving my foot. This time, my heel had a scuffle with some asphalt in a parking lot and my heel lost.

Picture it. Mr. SGCC and I were at a fancy schmancy country club last Friday night, celebrating the retirement of one of our favorite judges. Everyone who was anyone in our local Bar Association was there. I was all gussied up in one of my cutest outfits. I even wore eyeliner! Anyway, we had a lovely time and I managed not to kill or maim myself all during the party. Afterward, on the way out to the car, my heel somehow got stuck in the blacktop and…..



I went down on my ankle like a ton of bricks. That was all she wrote! Putting aside the incredible pain shooting up and down my leg, I could not walk, stand or put any weight at all on that ankle.

I spent the entire weekend flat on my back, with my ankle packed in ice until Monday, when I was sent to have an MRI. The result is that I have a partial tear in the anterior talofibular ligament of my lateral collateral ligament of my ankle joint. Whew! That’s quite a mouthful! What is basically means is that I will have to spend a few weeks off my feet. It also means no standing at the stove or oven for a while. No TWD. No Daring Bakers. No nothing!

Of course, I’m pretty ticked off about this, but there isn’t much I can do about it. I’m just hoping that it heals up quickly with no complications. Surgery is the last thing I need! So, for the time being, I’m sadly trading in Michael, Manolo and Jimmy for one of these:


Fortunately, I already have the makings of several posts to last me a week or two. I’ve also got over 200 articles in the SGCC archives, so I’m sure I can come up with a few that most of you haven’t seen before. But, in case you don’t hear from me as often as usual, I know you’ll understand why.

The following is a reprint of an article I wrote for Paper Palate on the Well Fed Network. It is a lovely chicken dish that we enjoyed very much. I hope you enjoy it too.

My heart did a little happy dance when I first laid eyes on the January, 2009 issue of Gourmet Magazine. It was the Italian-American issue, with a big, beautiful bowl of spaghetti and meatballs on the cover. Being an Italian-American myself, I was naturally and understandably drawn to it. Many of the fondest memories of my childhood revolve around the sights, sounds and smells emanating from my Nonna’s tiny kitchen. Nonna has long since passed from this world, but I can still see her standing at her stove, stirring her pots of Sunday gravy and lovingly tending her herb-laden roasted chickens.

The issue is chock full of poignant reflections and mouthwatering recipes. It is a virtual treasure trove for anyone interested in Italian food and cooking. My copy is already dog-eared and splattered with olive oil (extra-virgin, of course)!


When I first saw Tony Oltranti’s recipe for Roast Chicken with Pancetta and Olives, I knew that it would be one of the first to try. While he often prepares this dish using rabbit, it is also beautifully suited to chicken. The chicken is bathed in white wine and roasted in a very hot oven with pancetta, olives and lots of garlic. The result is a bird boasting unbelievably tender and juicy meat beneath a super crispy skin.

This dish is easy to prepare and doesn’t take all day. I prepared it for a weeknight dinner and took my first delicious bite after little more than an hour. I used chicken thighs instead of whole, cut up chickens, because we’re a dark meat kind of family. The chicken turns out so moist, I don’t think it matters what cuts you use.


Roast Chicken with Pancetta and Olives
adapted from Tony Oltranti via Gourmet Magazine, January, 2009


2 chickens (about 3 1/2 pounds each), backbones cut out and each chicken cut into 12 pieces (see cooks’ note, below)
1/4 cup extra-virgin olive oil
1 1/2 tablespoons chopped thyme
1 tablespoon chopped rosemary
1 tablespoon fine sea salt
1/2 to 1 teaspoon hot red-pepper flakes
10 garlic cloves, peeled
2 (1/4-inch-thick) slices pancetta, cut into 1-inch pieces
1 cup dry white wine
24 oil-cured black olives


Preheat oven to 450°F with rack in middle.

Toss chicken with oil, thyme, rosemary, sea salt, red-pepper flakes, and 1 teaspoon pepper, rubbing mixture into chicken.

Arrange chicken, skin side up, in 1 layer in a 17-by 11-inch 4-sided sheet pan. Scatter garlic and pancetta on top and roast until chicken begins to brown, about 20 minutes.

Drizzle wine over chicken and roast 8 minutes more.

Scatter olives over chicken and roast until skin is golden brown and chicken is cooked through, 15 to 20 minutes more. Let stand 10 minutes.

Cooks’ note: To cut a chicken into 12 pieces, remove wings and cut each breast half into 3 pieces, then separate drumsticks and thighs. Backbones can be used to make chicken stock.

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Hello and welcome to SGCC! I’m Susan, a professional writer, food columnist, recipe developer, wife, mother, daughter and sister, who used to be a lawyer in a previous life. My love of food comes from a long line of wonderful and creative Italian home cooks who didn’t always have a lot, but knew how to make a lot out of what they had. I hope that you enjoy yourself while you’re here, and visit often! read more >>

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