What’s Cooking at Third Coast? Chicken and Tangy Olives in a Ligurian Favorite

By M.D. Walters

My first culinary excursion was to the colorful Italian Riviera, curving along the beautiful, blue Mediterranean Sea. Just south of Genoa, the pink, blue and yellow stucco buildings of Portofino, Santa Margherita and Cinque Terre look like they are stacked on the ancient cliffs. Seafood is prevalent here, but in the small town of Sestri Levante, I learned to make a regional favorite, Pollo Liguria. It’s an easy, one-pot dish that is perfect for snowy Chicago evenings with family and friends.

Pollo Liguria (serves four; prep time 40-50 minutes)


3 tbsps flour
Salt and pepper to taste
1, 4-lb. chicken cut into 8 pieces  (Instead of a whole chicken, I buy legs and split chicken breasts that I cut in half.)
1/4 cup extra virgin olive oil
4 fresh rosemary sprigs (Use fresh rosemary; the lovely fragrance adds to the enjoyment of the dish.)
6 cloves fresh peeled garlic, sliced thin
1 1/2 cups white wine
1/2 cup green or Kalamata olives (with pits)
3 plum tomatoes, halved, seeded and coarsely chopped

The Steps:

  1. Combine the flour, salt and pepper in a large bowl.
  2. Add the chicken pieces, one by one, and toss so each piece is evenly coated. (Shaking the loose flour from the chicken before you add the pieces to the pot helps avoid too much flour falling into the liquid, burning and gumming up the delicate sauce.)
  3. Heat the olive oil in a large French-style casserole dish over medium-high heat. (You can also use a large frying or sauté pan with high sides and a lid.)
  4. Add the chicken pieces and fry until the skin is golden brown on the bottom, about 5-6 minutes.
  5. Turn the chicken over. Add the rosemary and garlic. Keep frying until the garlic gets soft (not brown), about 3 minutes.
  6. Add the wine and bring it to a boil. Add the olives and tomatoes.
  7. Partly cover the pan, and reduce the heat to medium low. Simmer until the chicken is tender and the broth is reduced to a rich sauce, 15 to 20 minutes or until the chicken reaches 165ºF.
  8. Discard the rosemary sprigs, and season with salt and pepper to taste.
  9. Serve the chicken with a spoonful or two of sauce on top.

You may add a salad or any green vegetable to the meal, and this is a dish that definitely calls for some crusty Italian or French bread.

Buona Mangiata!

With the government shutdown, USDA food inspections are being affected. Be sure to cook foods to the proper temperature. Here’s a helpful guide from FoodSafety.gov. 

M.D. Walters is a lover of all things Chicago, a lifelong foodie, and a global culinary explorer.

Photo credit: Cynthia Kallile

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