I have been watching Jacques Pepin on TV since his very first show. I love his food, his style, and his approach to cooking. Unlike so many Celebrity Chefs, Jacques Pepin actually understands food and our relationships with it. He’s not a show-off trying to let everyone know how great he is. He’s a teacher who imparts his years of knowledge with ease and humor. He is truly a role model. I have most of his cook books – actual hard cover, not digital – and can easily get lost in any one of them.
His latest TV series is on PBS – right after Jeopardy – and it’s where you will find us most nights of the week. It’s wild times at our house, for sure.
A few days ago, he cooked up chicken breasts stuffed with a homemade olive tapenade that just seemed out of this world. I made it, tonight. It is.
Ever have one of those dishes that just works on every level? This is one of them. The homemade tapenade is extraordinary. In fact, I shall never buy tapenade, again. This one was so easy to make and so flavorful, there’s just no comparison – and it only took seconds in the food processor to put together!
While you’re here… take a look at the plate made by my friend, Kel…
I had a couple of bone-in chicken breasts, so I actually boned them, myself, instead of using the boneless store-boughts I usually have on hand. It’s nice to actually do things like that once in a while so I don’t completely forget how to cook.
From the boning to the stuffing was just a couple of minutes. And then it was into a skillet – covered – for a quick cook. It was pretty much a 30 minute start-to-finish meal.
The recipe is online in many different places, so I don’t feel bad reposting it, here.
Chicken with Tapenade and Mushroom Sauce
- 3/4 cup chopped pitted mixed olives
- 8 oil-packed anchovy fillets
- 2 dried apricots, chopped
- 1 garlic clove, thinly sliced
- 1 1/2 tablespoons small capers, rinsed
- 2 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil
- Four 6-ounce skinless, boneless chicken breast halves
- Kosher salt
- 4 tablespoons unsalted butter
- 1 1/2 cups cremini mushrooms, chopped
- 1/2 small onion, finely chopped
- 1/2 cup dry white wine
- Chopped parsley and chives, for garnish
Putting it together:
- In a food processor, pulse the olives with the anchovies, apricots, garlic, capers and 2 tablespoons of the olive oil until the tapenade is a coarse puree.
- Make a horizontal incision in each piece of chicken to form a pocket. Spoon the tapenade into each pocket and press gently to close. Season the chicken breasts on both sides with salt and pepper.
- In a large skillet, melt 2 tablespoons of the butter in the remaining 1 tablespoon of olive oil. Add the chicken breasts, cover and cook over moderate heat, flipping once, until golden brown, about 6 minutes. Transfer the chicken to a plate and cover with aluminum foil.
- In the same skillet, add the mushrooms and onion and cook over moderate heat, stirring occasionally, until the onion is translucent, about 2 minutes. Add the wine and cook, scraping up the brown bits in the pan, until the liquid is slightly reduced, about 2 minutes more. Return the chicken to the pan and simmer until warmed through, about 2 minutes. Add the remaining 2 tablespoons of butter to the sauce and season with salt and pepper. Transfer the chicken breasts to 4 plates and spoon the sauce over the top. Garnish with parsley and chives and serve.
Anchovies and apricots in tapenade. Who woulda thunk? But, dayum, it works! And the sauce is simplicity unto itself.
This one shall happen, again – and the tapenade shall happen often!