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Sunday, April 5, 2009

martini chicken--sauteed, not stirred

I love to look through old cookbooks, but most of the recipes use the same tried-and-true flavor combinations. Lemon and dill? Check. Tomatoes and basil? Check. Cilantro and lime? Check. And while I'm sure that the recipes are delicious, I'm not often intrigued enough to try them.

But every now and then, I find one that sounds so bizarre, so outlandish, so...well...gross, that I just have to try it.

So it was with Martini Chicken. I discovered the recipe in Paula Peck's Art of Good Cooking (where she calls it Vermouth Chicken). I was lucky enough to discover this awesome cookbook when the Lanier High School library gave away all of its Home Ec collection. I was teaching Art at Lanier at the time, and I greedily grabbed all of the cookbooks I could find. The Art of Good Cooking was the one gem of the bunch. I tried several of Ms. Peck's recipes (and had great success) before I finally decided to (gulp) give the Martini Chicken a try.

The recipe calls for green olives, cinnamon, allspice, vermouth, and cream. Can you see why I my curiosity was piqued?

Well, weird as it may sound, this recipe is to die for. I have made it time and time again, and everyone always loves it. Even people who hate green olives (Doug, Jim) and people who hate cinnamon (Tott) and people who hate chicken (Tott again) love this dish. It was the perfect dish for Sunday Night Supper tonight--slightly unusual but ultimately rich, delicious, and comforting. It's different enough to be a company meal but easy and cheap enough to do on weeknights (or Sunday nights when I'm feeling lazy, natch).

Without further ado...

Martini Chicken (adapted from The Art of Good Cooking)
(serves 6)

1/4 cup butter (half a stick)
2 teaspoons salt
1/2 teaspoon allspice
1/2 teaspoon cinnamon
6 boneless skinless chicken breasts
2 bunches green onions, minced
1/2 cup dry vermouth
2/3 cup heavy cream
3/4 cup sliced green olives
1/4 cup finely chopped parsley

Preheat oven to 300. Put a casserole dish in the oven and let it get hot. Just leave it in there for now--you'll use it later.

Sprinkle the chicken breasts with the salt, allspice, and cinnamon. Melt the butter in a large saucepan over medium high heat. Saute the chicken breasts one minute on each side. Take out of the saucepan and stick in the hot casserole dish. Cover and cook at 300 for 8-10 minutes. (Because the heat is so low, these are pretty forgiving...I must admit that I've left mine in there for 15 minutes before and they've been fine.)

While the chicken is in the oven, add the green onions to the saucepan that has the butter and chicken drippings in it. Yum. Saute for two to three minutes on medium high. Then add the vermouth and cream. Cook on high, stirring frequently (and watching with an eagle eye to be sure this doesn't boil over). Let cook until reduced by about half.

Take chicken out, put each breast on a bed of rice, and pour the sauce generously all over. Top with green olives and parsley.


  1. Keep up the good work in recipe exploration, guys.

    Cinnamon and green olives. Hm. Brave woman, that Mrs. Peck.

  2. This is beyond delicious, I seriously don't know how to explain it to those that haven't had it, but I hate chicken (although I am learning), hate cinnamon (NEVER will learn) and used to hate green olives and this dish is still one of my all time favorites.