Braised Spicy Chicken with Olives and Basil

Braising is not something I do very often. I really prefer to roast or grill but, like I encourage you guys, it is important to stretch and try new things. Chicken breast is hard to braise without it  drying out and this dish is no different. You will need to watch your time carefully and take it out JUST when it is done.

The flavor is what will bring you back to this easy recipe again and again. I used Ro*Tel tomatoes with chilis for just a little heat but most of the flavor comes from copious amounts of fresh basil, garlic, onions, and Kalamata olives. This chicken dish is full of fresh flavor and bright color but best of all? It is really fast.

Just serve a demi-tasse of mouthwash to finish the meal.

I used boneless, skinless chicken breast because I am trying to eat very carefully; my lack of a thyroid gland has been helping me to be a little more padded than I used to be. However, I’d suggest a whole chicken (skin on) cut in serving pieces for the best results. And be sure to have a warm baguette handy to sop up the broth.

Did I mention the 24 garlic cloves and three cups of chopped onion?


One of the most important tips I can give you about braising is that you have to sear the meat really well before braising. You are creating a crust that keeps the meat juicy, and keeps it from dehydrating while it is simmering. Start with a layer of olive oil in a pan and heat it until the oil shimmers. Carefully place the seasoned meat in the pan and brown on one side, then the other. It will only take a few minutes per side. Resist the temptation to turn the heat down because you will end up steaming your meat…and you don’t want to do that.


This is a quick dish that will take probably 40 minutes at most. Serve with a baguette, some pasta or risotto, and a salad and you are good to go.

Yummy, right? And it is as good at room temperature (for those hot summer days) as hot. Maybe better.

This recipe is from Food & Wine Quick From Scratch Italian Cookbook with just a few tweaks.

Recipe: Braised Spicy Chicken with Basil and Olives

Summary: tender chicken in a light, flavorful broth


  • 1/4 cup olive oil
  • 3 lbs chicken
  • 1 tsp salt
  • Pepper
  • 2 large 1015 onions, chopped (3 cups)
  • 2 bell peppers, chopped
  • 24 cloves garlic, chopped
  • 2 tbs chopped fresh rosemary
  • 1 c dry white wine
  • 1 c chicken broth
  • 1 can diced tomatoes
  • 1 can Rotel tomatoes
  • 1 c halved Kalamata olives
  • 3/4 c chopped fresh basil


  1. Season the chicken with salt and pepper.
  2. Heat olive oil in pan until it shimmers.
  3. Place chicken in pan and brown on both sides.
  4. Remove the chicken and set aside. Keep in mind it is still raw inside and should be handled carefully.
  5. Add the onion, pepper, and garlic to the pan, turn the heat down to medium and cook until the onion is soft, about five minutes.
  6. Add the rosemary and wine and allow to reduce for five minutes.
  7. Add the broth, tomatoes, olives, and the chicken.
  8. Cover and simmer for 20 minutes.
  9. Stir in basil and serve.


may substitute rabbit or game birds for chicken.

Cooking time (duration): 30

Number of servings (yield): 8

Meal type: dinner

Culinary tradition: Italian

My rating: 5 stars:  ★★★★★ 1 review(s)

Nutrition Information:serving size 1 chicken breast or equivalent

Calories 446

Fat 15.2

Carbs 14.6

Fiber 2.8

Protein 55.7

Images: Marye Audet (c) 2011

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