Braised Chicken Legs with Kalamata Olives

Way back in time when I became more serious about cooking for myself I used to read a lot of Food and Wine magazines.  This is a variation of one of the first “step-up dinners” I made where I graduated from using one of those jar sauces to cook chicken in.  Those, of course, were a step-up from Shake N Bake chicken.  I don’t remember all of the original ingredients in the F&W recipe and over the years I’ve tweaked this plenty.  Make it a few times and you’ll find it’s a very easy one to customize for yourself.

The main ingredients for the recipe are whole chicken legs, kalamata olives, and tomatoes.  Not a lot of base ingredients, and not very expensive ones either.  From there you can add whatever herbs and spices you like.  I find it’s best to stick with ones that compliment the olives like some lemon zest and oregano.  Eventually you’ll tinker enough to find your own flavors.  I made this for Cheryl when we first started dating only to discover (while at the stove) she was not a huge fan of tomatoey sauces.  I said be patient, you’ll see, it’s not all tomatoes.  The fact that kalamata olives are some of her favorites helped a lot and she liked it.  Great dish to serve with orzo, rice, or cous-cous.

Braised Chicken Legs with Kalamata Olives

  • 6 whole chicken legs
  • 1 can of crushed tomatoes (28oz)
  • Salt
  • 2 tsp thyme
  • 2 tsp oregano
  • 3 cloves garlic, minced
  • 1 small onion, diced
  • Lemon zest from 1 lemon
  • Parsley
  • ½ C White wine
  • 2 Tbs olive oil
  • 2 Tbs butter
  • 1 C Kalamata olives (chopped to tapenade consistency)

Season the chicken legs with salt and pepper.  In a heavy bottomed pan heat the oil and butter over medium heat.  Brown the chicken legs in batches of twos, remove from pan and set aside.

When all the legs are browned, drain off the excess oil, leaving about 1 Tbs of fat.  Return pan to burner and add the onion, garlic, thyme, oregano and sauté for 5 minutes.

Next, de-glaze the pan with the white wine and reduce by half.  Add the can of tomatoes.  Bring to a simmer and add the chicken legs and any juices back into the pan.  Cover and simmer for 35-40 minutes, until cooked and tender.

While the chicken is cooking take the kalamata olives and chop in a food processor to a tapenade consistency.  Not quite paste-like.

Remove the cooked chicken legs from the pan and arrange on a platter over some orzo, rice, or cous cous.  Stir in the chopped kalamata, lemon zest, parsley and mix well.  Reduce to desired consistency (if needed).  Pour the sauce back over the chicken legs and serve.



  1. trialsinfood says:

    This looks delicious. I have a pretty similar recipe using other spices (cumin, chili powder) and short ribs braised in the oven. Okay, maybe it’s not that similar. 😉

  2. Alli says:

    I’ll definitely be making this, I love anything braised. I also love Israeli couscous.

    1. Let me know how it turns out!

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