Paso Robles

Seared and Braised Feta-Stuffed Chicken Thighs with White Wine and Green Olives

by Brigit Binns  

This gutsy and rustic dish features powerful acidity from the feta, wine, and olives, but the tanginess is tamed slightly by the broth and the natural richness inherent to chicken thighs-one of my favorite bits of the chicken. It's the perfect dish to serve when meat is not on the menu but you plan to serve a good red wine with the main course.  

Serves 6

  • 12 boneless, skinless chicken thighs, preferably from a pasture-raised chicken
  • Fine sea salt and freshly ground black pepper
  • 1 (7- to 8-ounce) block feta cheese, cut into 12 small rectangles
  • 2 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil
  • 2 large shallots, coarsely chopped
  • Large sprig fresh rosemary
  • Large sprig fresh thyme
  • 5 garlic cloves, minced or pushed through a press
  • 1 1/4 cups medium-dry white wine, such as Viognier or a Rhône blend
  • 1 cup homemade or store-bought low-sodium chicken broth
  • 1 lemon slice
  • 1½ cups mild, brine-cured green olives (about 6 ounces), pitted and halved
  • 1 tablespoon coarsely chopped fresh flat-leaf parsley (optional)

Place half the boneless thighs on a work surface with the smaller end toward you and spread them out flat; season generously with pepper. Place a rectangle of feta in the center and roll up to the top. Tie either end with a short piece of thin kitchen twine to hold in the cheese. Repeat with the remaining thighs and feta. Season generously with salt and just a little bit of pepper.

Preheat the oven to 325°F. Place a large ovenproof skillet over medium-high heat and add the olive oil. When the oil is very hot, add six of the chicken rolls and sear until golden brown on all sides, turning with tongs. Transfer to a platter, let the pan heat up again and sear the remaining rolls in the same way; transfer to the platter. Pour off all but about 1 tablespoon of the fat from the pan and return it to medium heat. Add the shallots, rosemary and thyme. Sauté for about 5 minutes, until the shallots are tender, then add the garlic and stir for 1 minute. Add the wine and bring to a brisk simmer; reduce the liquid by about half, 6 to 8 minutes, tipping the pan and skimming the fat occasionally. Return the chicken to the pan and add the broth, lemon slice, ¼ teaspoon salt, and plenty of pepper. Bring to a simmer, cover tightly with aluminum foil and the lid, if there is one, and transfer to the oven. Cook for 20 minutes, then turn the chicken pieces over, add the olives, re-cover, and continue cooking for about 10 minutes more, or until the chicken is very tender.

Transfer the chicken to a warm, clean platter and cover loosely with foil. On the stovetop, place the skillet over high heat and reduce the sauce a little bit to concentrate the juices, stirring, for 5 to 6 minutes. Remove the remains of the herb branches and the lemon slice, return the chicken to the pan for a moment to warm through, and serve, spooning plenty of the chunky sauce over the top and sprinkling with the parsley.

Recommended Pairings: Central Coast: Villa Creek "Granadina," Paso Robles (Cabernet Sauvignon, Mourvedre)

*Photo credit to Maria Liberati

Brigit Binns is the author or co-author of numerous best-selling cookbooks, many of them for Williams-Sonoma. Although she has lived, cooked, and celebrated the pleasures of the table from New York to London to Southern Spain-and throughout the Mediterranean-her heart always remained true to her home state of California.  All Refugio classes take place in her beautiful outdoor kitchen in Paso Robles.