Chicken Provençal is an easy and delicious combination of chicken, tomatoes, olives, and herbs. It takes minimal preparation and is perfect for a midweek meal with rice or bread.
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Chicken is always one of my go-to’s for an easy meal as it’s easy to add flavor with minimal prep. I have a good few recipes we have often at different times of the year, such as chicken satay and chicken gyros in summer and baked tarragon chicken and curries in colder weather.
This is a meal that can work any time of the year with fresh flavors that are comforting too. I generally cook it in the oven but it can work on the stovetop too if you don’t want to heat the kitchen with the oven on.
WHAT DOES PROVENÇAL MEAN?
“Provençal” simply means “in the style of Provence” or from Provence, as that is where this dish originates.
Provence is an area in the South of France, partly on the Mediterranean coast, that borders Italy. It includes the city of Marseille (and in more modern borders of the area, also Nice), as well as various hilly areas and unique landscapes like the Camargue.
The area is also famous for its food. Dishes like the fish stew bouillabaisse, the vegetable dish ratatouille, olive spread tapenade, and fougasse bread all come from the region, to name but a few. Olives, garlic, sardines, and chickpeas are some of the ingredients you’ll find in the area and some of those come into this dish.
Provençal-style dishes typically include onion, garlic, olive oil, olives, and tomatoes, as well as herbs from the area. Many also include anchovies, capers, and/or artichokes or bell peppers. You’ll see dishes using fish as the base as well as chicken, as here.
The dishes also have simplicity in common. It’s all about letting the flavors gently mingle and the aromatics shine through. These aren’t fancy high-end meals but more country cooking but still packed with flavor and perfect for an easy meal.
WHAT CUT OF CHICKEN IS BEST?
Traditionally, this would be made with a whole chicken, cut into pieces. You certainly can do that if you prefer, but I find bone-in chicken thighs are a great alternative that doesn’t require the prep.
I would recommend bone-in for this as I think they both stay moister and have better flavor. They take slightly longer to cook than boneless, but that gives the other flavors a little more time to mingle.
OTHER TIPS TO MAKE THIS DISH
If you can get good fresh tomatoes, then I would recommend them for this. Cherry tomatoes on the vine generally have a good flavor and work really well, or else some other good summer tomatoes.
If you can’t get good fresh then some good canned, chopped tomatoes will also work. They do, however, mingle that bit more so it makes the sauce a little different.
For olives, you can use either green or black as you prefer, but I’d recommend relatively ‘meaty’ ones like kalamata or castelvetrano. Both white wine and red wine can work in this but go for something that’s not too floral, oaked, or full-bodied. I quite like a white like a Pinot Grigio or unoaked Chardonnay.
Chicken Provençal (Provencal) makes a delicious and easy meal, perfect for any night, with aromatic and bright flavors, despite the minimal effort. So add it to your menu soon, and enjoy with some rice or bread on the side. It will be delicious either way.
- 2lb bone-in chicken thighs 900g, approx 5-6 pieces
- ¼tsp salt approx
- ¼tsp pepper approx
- 3shallots or 2 if larger, or 1 small red onion
- 2cloves garlic
- 1cup cherry tomatoes 180g
- 1 ½tbsp olive oil
- ½cup canned artichoke hearts 95g
- ½cup kalamata olives 70g if pitted, more if not (see notes)
- ½cup white wine 120ml
- 1sprig rosemary
- 3stems thyme
- ¼tsp dried marjoram (optional)
- Trim any excess fat and skin from the chicken then sprinkle all over with salt and pepper.
- Peel and slice the shallots and garlic (both in relatively thin slices). Preheat the oven to 400F/200C.
- Warm the oil in a Dutch oven or shallow casserole/brazier with a lid large enough to hold the chicken in a single layer, but relatively snugly, over medium-high heat.
- Brown the chicken on both sides as well as the ends so that it is browned all over. Remove from the pan to a plate or other dish.
- Add the shallots to the pan and cook, stirring regularly, for around 3 – 5 minutes so the onions soften. Add the garlic and cook another minute.
- Add the tomatoes, artichokes, olives, and wine to the pan, add in the herbs, and stir to mix. Then add back the chicken pieces, along with any juices that collected, nestling them in between the other ingredients so they sit in a single layer. Tuck the sprigs of thyme and rosemary down in between the chicken, as best you can.
- Cover the pan with the lid and transfer to the oven. Remove the lid after about 15 minutes and cook for around 20 minutes more (around 35 minutes in total) until the chicken is cooked through. Serve warm, over rice or with crusty bread on the side.
Tomatoes, olives, onion/shallot, and garlic are key to this so don’t skip those, but if you prefer, you can omit the artichokes or swap with bell peppers. Though we really like this combination.
If you don’t have fresh herbs, you can use dried herbes de Provence instead, or at least thyme and rosemary. Use around 2 tsp in total, or more to taste.
If good fresh tomatoes are not available, you can use canned though it does change the dish a bit.