“Yum, this dish is delicious!” said my husband, as he treated himself to a second helping of my Chicken Provencal. “Is this recipe French or Italian?”
It’s French, of course, but I couldn’t blame him for thinking it could have come from Italy. Chicken Provencal (or Poulet Provençal) is a native dish from the region of Provence, located in the southeast corner of France. Because of its proximity to the Italian border, the food in Provence is highly influenced by Italy and the bounty from the Mediterranean Sea.
Bouillabaisse, Ratatouille, Salade Niçoise and Pisaladière – these are all dishes that spring from Provence. (How well I remember making Bouillabaisse while living in France, using the scary-looking red scorpion fish)!
Like most cuisine from the region, Chicken Provencal uses lots of tomatoes, olive oil, garlic, olives and a special mixture of herbs known as herbes de Provence. This is a mixture of dried herbs including oregano, basil, marjoram, thyme and fennel seeds. Have some fun making up your own mixture of herbes de Provence and you can even use it later in many other dishes.
Chicken Provencal is not difficult to make – it’s mainly a chicken stew with lots of flavours infused from white wine, chicken stock, tomatoes, red capsicums and herbs (and I’ve even added one anchovy)!
“Can I have a third helping of Chicken Provencal?” my husband asked. “No”, I replied, “you’ve got to leave room for your dessert: Profiteroles with Custard Cream and Chocolate Sauce !”
Recipe for Herbes de Provence
2 tablespoons each of dried thyme, basil, oregano, marjoram, rosemary and savory (optional) and 1 tablespoon of ground fennel seeds.
- 1 red bell pepper
- 7 – 8 Chicken thighs, bone-in and skin on
- 1 tbsp olive oil
- 1 small onion, diced
- 3 garlic cloves, diced
- 1 anchovy fillet, chopped
- Pinch cayenne
- 1 cup (250 ml) dry white wine
- 1 cup (250 ml) chicken stock
- 2 tbsp tomato paste
- Several sprigs of fresh thyme leaves
- 1 Bay Leaf
- 1 tsp Herbes de Provence
- 1 tbsp grated lemon zest
- 10 -12 pitted olives
- Chopped parsley leaves for garnish
- Pre-heat the oven griller.
- Slice the bell pepper into quarters and remove the seeds and inner membrane. Rub the outer skin with olive oil and place in the oven griller for several minutes until the skin blisters and blackens a little. Place inside a plastic bag to cool, then cut the pepper into thin strips.
- Reduce oven to 180 C.
- Season both sides of the chicken thighs with salt and pepper. Heat the oil in a large skillet or Dutch oven. Over medium-high heat, brown both sides of each chicken thigh, starting with the skin side first.
- Remove the chicken pieces from the pan and let drain on a plate lined with kitchen paper. Retain at least 1 tbsp of oil/fat in the pan.
- ‘Sweat’ the diced onion in the pan until translucent in color, then add the garlic and simmer for another 1 -2 minutes.
- Add the chopped anchovy and cayenne. Stir in the white wine and scrape the brown bits from the bottom of the pan using the edge of a spatula or wooden spoon.
- Add the remaining ingredients to the pan: chicken stock, tomato paste, bell pepper slices, fresh thyme leaves, bay leaf and Herbes de Provence.
- Add the chicken pieces back to the pan. If necessary, add more chicken stock to ensure the chicken pieces are completely covered with liquid.
- Cover the Dutch oven or skillet and bake for 1 hour 15 minutes, or until the meat falls off the bone.
- Remove the chicken pieces from the pan, cover with foil and let rest while preparing the sauce.
- Remove the bay leaf from the pan, add the lemon zest and bring the ingredients to a soft boil. Reduce heat and stir occasionally until the sauce is reduced to about 1 ½ cups. Add the olives and heat for an additional one minute.
- To serve, place several chicken pieces on a bed of rice, spoon some sauce over the chicken and garnish with several parsley sprigs.