Tomato and pancetta roast chicken with green olives

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When the days turn warmer and longer I start to hanker for the food of summer days. I spend hours going through my recipes, looking for those special dishes that I so identify with warm Mediterranean days and nights. This is one such dish and even just sharing this with you, I’m smiling with joy. This dish makes the perfect evening meal with a crisp green salad, but it also is the perfect dish to share over a long, leisurely lunch, where the variety of dishes on offer is as long as the lunch will take…..many of such lunches merging into an equally leisurely dinner. I like to serve this in the middle of the table so family or guests can help themselves. Make sure you have plenty of fresh ciabatta to mop up the juices but be quick, you might miss out!

Serve this with a savoury, young sangiovese.

 

 

Tomato and pancetta roast chicken with green olives

6 chicken Marylands, jointed

3/4 teaspoon dried chilli flakes

100 ml olive oil

1 Spanish onion, cut into thin wedges

4 oxheart tomatoes, thickly sliced

450g  mixed cherry tomatoes

 1/4 cup (firmly packed) each basil and oregano, plus extra to serve

2 tablespoons thyme leaves

125 ml dry white wine

1 head of garlic, halved horizontally

6 medium slices round pancetta

120g large green olives


Preheat oven to 180C. Combine chicken in a bowl with chilli flakes, 2 tablespoons olive oil, 1 teaspoon sea salt and 1/2 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper and stir to combine well, then set aside.

Heat 2 tablespoons olive oil over medium-high heat in a shallow casserole large enough to hold chicken pieces in a single layer, add onion and cook, stirring occasionally, until browned (4-5 minutes). Remove from heat, add half the oxheart tomatoes and half the cherry tomatoes, spreading over onion, then place chicken pieces on top. Scatter with remaining tomatoes, basil, oregano and thyme and season to taste. Drizzle with wine and remaining olive oil, tuck in garlic, season to taste and roast uncovered until chicken browns and tomato is pulpy (1¼-1½ hours).

Place pancetta on top of chicken and roast until crisp (2-3 minutes), then coarsely crumble the pancetta and stir into chicken mixture along with olives. Serve hot or at room temperature, scattered with extra herbs.

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