Search This Blog

Tuesday, 10 July 2012

Laurence Olivier

I’ve just lugged home a GINORMOUS Label Anglais from the lovely folk over at Wyndham House Poultry who not only helped me choose a bird, but also removed the bits I’d prefer not to deal with and gave me a discount “for smiling sweetly...”
Ha! In this day and age – I mean really!

Now the Label Anglais, if you don’t know it, is pretty much Avian Gold Dust. Grown to full maturity, fed only on natural foods with no growth additives and dodgy hormones, bruhaha’d by celebrity chefs all over the world, Label Anglais chickens just taste as though they’ve led long and joyful lives. Which is very important. We must all aspire to lead long and joyful lives.

See: with a somewhat open mind, there is always a lesson to be learnt.

Anyhow, now I'm home and out of the blasted rain and I place my discounted, once-joyous, now-dead, chicken on the counter.
And I proceed to unpack it. 
This takes me a long time. You see, there’s plastic and paper and the legs tied together with red rubber bands and the arms tied together with yellow rubber bands (they're very organised, it seems, back there on the Wyndham House Poultry Farm).

So, it takes me a long time. Which is just as well because I don’t quite know why I've bought this beast. It’s not like I had any recipes brewing in my head when I saw it or anything. So it was hardly love at first sight. Or anything like that. But well, apparently I smiled sweetly and of course smiling sweetly must have meant I wanted it.

And now I have it.


Duly unpacked I give it a long hard stare.
And I wonder what to do with it.

But first, I decide to christen it, Laurence.

For no reason other than the fact that it looks exactly like what a Laurence ought to look like.
A very happy and joyous Laurence that not-too-long-ago roamed the fields and the hedgerows without a care in the world.


Duly unpacked and now christened, I give it a long, hard stare for the second time
And I wonder (yes, for the second time) what to do with it.

And then I sigh. As I often do when inspiration fails. It’s always my first step in such situations. It totally helps.
And then I open my fridge and survey the contents. Which is my next step in such situations.
(As you can tell, I've got this routine down to a pat)

I see multifarious items in my fridge, all of which have great interest to me in the general scheme of life, but none of which have the slightest interest to me in this specific instance.

Because I am looking for something to go with Laurence.
And I am not finding anything to go with Laurence.

It's heart-wrenching, it is. 

And then – like a light at the end of the tunnel, the pot of gold at the bottom of the rainbow and all those very lovely things  – I see what I need.
And suddenly I'm so happy, I'm laughing.

Because I have found the perfect little things to go with Laurence. And these perfect little things are olives! A whole bunch of little, oval green and black oily olives sitting demurely in my fridge.

And Muse, once departed, now returns.

For there is only one logical word on earth that’s meant to go with Laurence. And that is Olivier.

Laurence Olivier.

What a perfectly delightful idea.

This is Chicken with Olives, guys.
Otherwise known as Laurence Olivier.

Very delicious indeed.
Both the man and the dish.
But since we can't have the man, at least we can have the dish.
Which is not such a bad consolation prize really, you'll see.

However, before we go any further down this darling and delectable path, you should know that this dish is full of olives. It's practically brimming over with the round little suckers. And I know olives are a highly 'love it or hate it' kind of thing. The other half, for example - who is also the better half and (sigh) the richer half - wont touch ‘em.
"They're acquired taste" - he tells me.
"Acquire the taste, then" - I tell him.
Sadly, that little discussion is not going too well.

Anyhow, the important thing is that I LOVE them.
But then you may not.
So: if you don’t like olives, you should probably stop reading just about now. Because I simply can't separate the Laurence from the Olivier. It just won't work. It's unnatural.

But, on the other hand, if you do like olives

Well, then, my friends – the World is your Olive.

And read on, kindly.
Because I am a true believer in the words of my friend, the charming and witty Oscar Wilde, when he says “It is what you read when you don't have to that determines what you will be when you can't help it.”

That, and the fact this dish is truly very yummalicious indeed.


I’m using a mix of  Manzanilla and Kalamata Olives.
Green and Black.
Spanish and Greek
(The Battle of the Bailouts, you say)
(Very funny)

The Manzanillas – firm and plump and green and not too salty. 
The Kalamatas – ripe, fat and almond shaped, deep purpley-black, with a rich and fruity flavour


I’m also going to use some sun-dried tomatoes because I absolutely love the tart, fruity, sweet-salt burst of flavour they lend to any dish. Plus, there's the very undeniable fact that they pair exceptionally well with olives.

That settled, I now proceed to slowly dismember Laurence.

Don’t worry…this is not usually what I do to most men who enter my kitchen. 
Only to some…

So I tear him apart, very gently, partly because I’m a kind and gentle person. And partly because he was used to being treated kindly and gently on the poultry farm. But mostly because I just want to use the thighs and legs. I don’t much care for the rest. I'm not a white-meat girl. I'm rather a leg lover. And okay – maybe, sometimes, rarely – a thigh lover. But only if you insist.

Anyhow, don’t be alarmed, I won't waste the rest. I don’t ever waste anything. It’ll all be put to very good use. And there’s LOTS that can be done with what I'm not using – chicken soup, chicken sandwiches, chicken salad, and so on and so forth. With two boys in the house, waste is never an issue…

Anyway, let's worry about all that later. In the here and the now…

Here’s what you need:

- 3 tbsp olive oil – well of course, it needs to be olive oil!
- 6 pieces chicken legs and thigh with skin on
- 1 onion, diced
- 4 large tomatoes, chopped
- 1 cup green olives + 1 cup black olives
- 1 cup sun-dried tomatoes
- 6 cloves garlic, peeled and minced
- 1/2 green capsicum + 1/2 red capsicum (I’m seriously digging the colours today), seeded and roughly chopped
- Pinch, paprika
- Juice of 1 lime
- Salt and pepper to taste

Here's how I do it:

First, I gently (and kindly) massage the Laurence-parts in a mixture of lemon, salt and paprika. I drizzle on a bit of olive oil over everything and leave it for 30 minutes. 
Next, I heat some olive oil in a large pan on medium-high and brown the bird formerly known as Laurence, on all it's sides. Once done, I remove and set aside.

In the same pan (I don’t wash it), I add onions, garlic, and green and red capsicum. I stir and cook for a couple of minutes until the capsicum softens. I add in both the fresh and the sun-dried tomatoes and cook for a few minutes. Then, I season with salt and pepper. At this point, I add my Laurence-pieces back to the pan, cover it with a lid, and let the flavours really soak in. 

Finally, I remove the lid and as the very last step, I add in my olives and shake the pan to mix things up. Please remember, it is  very important to add in the olives only at the end, else they become unpleasantly bitter through the cooking process, and we never want that!  If you like, you can pour in some white wine or stock at this point if you prefer a more moist, soupy consistency, but I like my dish crisp and dry. 

And that, my friends, is Laurence Olivier.
Desirable, talented, historically handsome.
And now, thanks to your efforts  – ready to be eaten.
So dig in.
Go on, do it.
Relive your inner Vivian Leigh – you know you want to!


  1. yummy! and sounds easy? was it? i can never ever deal with a whole bird though. btw just back from morocco, where they have a delicious chicken tagine with preserved lemons guessed it...olives :)

    1. Hi Anu! It IS yummy! and soooo easy...think dry Indian chicken without all the powders and instead - some capsicum, sun dried tomatoes and olives chucked in. Takes 20 minutes, seriously! And no mess! LOVE Moroccan food, I'd go back just to eat - hope you had a lovely time! thanks for reading xx