Once a sought-after niche item, jars of plump Kalamatas now grace the shelves of even the smallest American supermarkets. After those dark Greek orbs were widespread enough for the foodies to snub the slightest mention of Kalamata, in marched the Niçoise. It was French, and had a crazy letter C, which made the pronunciation intimidating enough to make the average American home-cook shy away from them. It was perfect. The foodies were happy with their Niçoise, that is, until the cooking magazines published enough retro Niçoise salad recipes, coaxing middle America to roll out that niswaaaaahhhz while ordering in chain restaurants and chatting with friends at book club. The foodies had to move on.
The Italian Gaeta is smaller than the Kalamata, and not as difficult to pronounce as the Niçoise, but nevertheless hasn't had a salad named after it, so is still somewhat under the radar. Now, I haven't seen too many recipes specifying Gaeta olives yet...but it will come. Of this, I am sure.
If, but more likely when, Gaeta olives present themselves to you, a great dish to show them off in is a simple and quick chicken fricassée. I've been falling harder and harder for this stove-top method of cooking whatever choice chicken pieces are fresh at the market. Anything but another pan-fried chicken breast is what my taste buds crave (have I mentioned the lack of oven at the moment? I thank my lucky stars I'm not a baking fiend, but I do miss my Sunday roast like something else.) A fricassée is such a great way to make a complete meal for two with minimal time and effort. I usually add in leeks and whatever else is seasonal. Here, rosemary, tomatoes, and the coming-of-in-vogue-age Gaetas make an appearance. It was savoury, the chicken wasn't soggy thanks to browning it well first, and the sauce was amazing. A repeat will be soon.
Continue to Recipe...
Recipe: Chicken Fricassée with Leeks and Gaeta Olives
Adapted from Gourmet Jun 1995
Time 45 mins
1 Tb butter + 1 Tb olive oil
1/4 cup (60ml) dry white wine
1 big leek, white part halved and sliced
1 clove garlic, minced
1 15-oz (425g) can stewed tomatoes - chopped
1 cup (235ml) chicken broth
1 sprig fresh rosemary
a large handful of Gaeta olives
orzo/rice/potatoes or anything that'll soak up all the lovely saucy bits
1) Rinse, pat dry, salt/pepper the chicken. Heat the butter and olive oil in a deep pan over medium heat. Cook chicken until browned on both sides, about 5-7 minutes, remove from pan and set aside.
2) Pour the wine into the pan and bring to boil so all the meaty bits can be scraped from the pan. Add the sliced leek and cook until softened, 2-3 mins. Add the garlic, tomatoes, chicken broth and rosemary. Stir well and bring to a boil. Mix in the olives and add the chicken back in, reduce to a simmer, place a lid on the pan, and let cook for about 20 mins.
3 Test that chicken is cooked through by inserting a knife and checking that juices run clear. Serve with grain of choice.