Last night, I hosted my Thursday night book club. I love book club so much … I actually belong to 3 of them. My Thursday night book club consists of friends I’ve met through our daughters playing softball together. We’ve known each other since our girls were about 7 or 8 years old. Sandy and I actually met when our daughter’s played soccer together. Her daughter, Morgan, was on Kylie’s team. Both Kylie and Morgan also played softball, so we continued to be on teams together. I remember sitting in the stands with Sandy and freezing. We’d be huddled under blankets for those nighttime games. I know, it’s California, but it does get chilly here too :).
I remember the exact moment I met Jen H. Her daughter, Ally, was on Kylie’s softball team and Dennis was the coach. Jen introduced herself to me and told me her email (which is still the same). Jen, Scott and the kids had just moved to San Diego from the Bay Area. We were the first friends Jen and Scott made when they moved here. I’m so glad they moved here!
Celeste has a daughter named Kirstin, who was a pitcher, just like Kylie. Celeste owns a fabulous skin care company called Skin Authority. Their products can be found in high end spas and hotels across the world and I can’t recommend Skin Authority enough. They are the best! Skin Authority products can also be found on-line on their website http://www.skinauthority.com. If you get a chance, check out their website!
Jen M. is married to Kent. Jen’s husband, Kent’s daughter played softball with our girls. I got to know Jen when we were both at our husband’s softball game to cheer them on. She would bring her sweet lab, Sydney, to the games. I remember when she first brought Sydney to a game when she was just a new puppy … Oh em gee – she was, and still is, darling. Jen and Kent are the friends I’ve talked about that host the cheese party each year, which is always so much fun.
Now our husbands (who coached those same daughters on many teams), play on a softball team that you’ve heard me mention many times before, Fast & Furious. They did make it to the championships last week and only lost by 1 run! I was there, it was quite a game :).
My dear friend, Ralene, who is part of our book club does not have a daughter that plays softball or a husband on Fast & Furious. She has a son, Johnny and a fabulous fiancé, John (my cousin). Ralene and I became friends because she is engaged to my cousin, John. I knew Ralene would fit in perfectly with my friends so I invited her to join our book club.
Dennis, Kylie and I ran into Celeste, her husband, Ted and their daughter at the fair a couple weeks ago. Her and I were looking at my blog and she noticed a picture of a dish I had just made with chicken thighs and olives. She mentioned how much she’d love that, so I made a version of that for dinner last night.
I bought boneless, skinless chicken thighs that I marinated in kosher salt, pepper and Mediterranean seasoning. I sprinkled the chicken with a mixture of those seasonings and let it sit in the fridge for about an hour and a half before cooking it.
I heated a few tablespoons of olive oil in a large Dutch oven and browned the chicken. I did this in batches since I was browning 12 thighs. As each batch of chicken was done browning, I placed it on a plate to rest while I continued with the next few thighs.
I wiped the Dutch oven out with a paper towel before adding another tablespoon of olive oil and sautéing the onion for a couple minutes. Once I cooked the onion for that short time, I added a small bottle of Pinot Grigio to the pan. I like to keep these small bottles of wine in my pantry just for cooking. Each bottle is equivalent to 3/4 cup.
I wanted to remove the pimientos from the green olives and found that my orange peeler was the perfect tool for the job. I just pushed the smaller end of the orange peeler into the bottom half of the olive and gave a little push …. whoop, out popped the pimiento.
On top of the bottom layer of lemons and onion, I placed about four of the thighs. On top of the thighs, I placed several pieces of sliced garlic (I actually peeled and minced a quarter cup of garlic for this dish). On top of that, I added some of the olives, more lemon slices and a little of the olive juice that I kept aside in a measuring cup. Repeat in layers: chicken, garlic slices, olives, lemons, olive juice and so on, until you have all the chicken thighs layered in the pan. I made sure to pour any of the juices that collected on the plate while the thighs were resting onto the thighs at the end.
I placed the Dutch oven into a preheated 375 degree oven for 30 minutes. Ralene and Jen H. will tell you how much they loved using the extra juices and olives that were left in the pan for dipping their bread into. I heated a loaf of ciabatta and those pan juices were better than any butter could be on a slice of bread. Ralene recommends placing a small “gravy boat” of the juices onto your table for just this purpose. Yummmmmm! That alone could be a nice little dinner for the next night. Bread, cooked olives and their juices, a few small wedges of your favorite cheese and a glass of wine. All you need is a beautiful sunset and your evening is complete.
My beautiful friends, Jen H and Celeste
This chicken was fabulous with a dollop or two of blue cheese served on top (hence the name black and blue chicken). I know not everyone loves blue cheese and if you are one of those that does not love blue cheese, maybe you could offer it on the side for anyone that may want a little on their chicken.
I served this dish with an anchovy lemon pasta (I’ll post that recipe soon), a simple salad and the ciabatta bread.
Dessert was Ina Garten’s fabulous chocolate cake. Let me just say, fabulous it was!
The book we discussed for our book club meeting was “Small Great Things” by Jodi Picoult. It was a great book, I highly recommend it. Jen H. is hosting next and she chose “Little Fires Everywhere” by Celeste Ng. I can’t wait to get started on our next read.
12 boneless, skinless chicken thighs
3/4 cup Pinot Griogio
10 ounce pitted Kalamata olives, plus 1/4 cup of the juice
5 ounces green olives, plus 1/4 cup of the juice (pimientos removed)
1/4 cup sliced garlic cloves
3 lemons, sliced
1 onion, sliced in 1/2 rounds
3 teaspoons kosher salt
2 teaspoons pepper
3-1/2 teaspoons Mediterranean seasoning
3 tablespoons olive oil
Crusty bread for serving
blue cheese for serving
- In small bowl, mix together salt, pepper and Mediterranean seasoning. Lay chicken out on a large pan and pat dry with a paper towel. Sprinkle both sides with seasoning mix. Place in refrigerator to marinate for 1-1/2 hours.
- Preheat oven to 375 degrees.
- In large Dutch oven, heat 2 tablespoons olive oil. Brown chicken in batches and set aside.
- Once chicken is browned, wipe bottom of Dutch oven with a paper towel and add 1 tablespoon olive oil. Add onion and cook for 2 minutes and add wine.
- Lay a third of the sliced onions over the onions, top with a third of the olives and four of the chicken thighs. Top the thighs with a third of the sliced garlic. Repeat, starting with lemons. (Lemons, olives, chicken, garlic).
- Once all chicken is in the Dutch oven, add the juices collected on the plate from the chicken. Cover Dutch oven and place in oven for 30 minutes.
- Serve with crusty bread.
Until next time, Kris