Chicken thighs with saffron, green olives, and mintChicken thighs with saffron, green olives, and mint

I made my first Mario Batali recipe tonight, from Molto Italiano: chicken thighs with saffron, green olives, and mint. The main appeal was the recipe’s headnote:

Thighs are the best part of all birds. And now that chicken thighs can be bought already separated from the rest of the bird, we can avoid the expense of feeding the breasts to the dog.

Mario is speaking my language there—thighs rule. I already had a batch of them coming from FreshDirect, and the only ingredient I was missing from the recipe was green olives. I went for Sicilian olives, since this was supposed to be Italian and I know very little about olives.

The preparation was easy, and the finished product exceeded expectations. I’m not a big fan of saffron, but I love the combination of olives and mint, and I figured it would be strong enough to dominate.

Mario has you heat the olive oil until it smokes before adding the chicken. This always makes me nervous, but I learn my lesson a bit more every time. Extremely hot oil = crisp skin that doesn’t stick to the pan. Such was the case this time, and the only downside is sputtering grease.

The braised olives were the highlight of the dish, and as I was eating I thought how good the dish would be with the chicken omitted altogether, since it seemed to just get in the way of its accompaniments.

Chicken thighs with saffron, green olives, and mint (serves 4)

  • Flour, for dredging
  • 12 chicken thighs, rinsed and patted dry
  • 1/4 cup olive oil
  • 2 large red onions, thinly sliced
  • 1/2 teaspoon saffron threads
  • 1 cup small green olives
  • 1 medium carrot, finely chopped
  • 3 cups chicken stock
  • 1/2 cup fresh mint leaves

Season the chicken and dredge it in the flour. Heat the oil in a Dutch oven over high heat until smoking. Add the chicken in batches and brown it well on all sides. Transfer to a plate and set aside.

Add the onions and saffron the pot and cook for about ten minutes to soften the onions. (This made my apartment smell like bagels.) Add the olives, carrot, and stock, and bring to a boil. Return the thighs to the pot in a single layer, bring to a boil, lower to a simmer, cover, and cook for 15 minutes.

Remove the lid and cook until the chicken is cooked through, about ten more minutes. Place the chicken on a platter. Season the sauce, and add the mint leaves to it. Pour it over the chicken and serve.


We just prepared this recipe last weekend, and it was completely enjoyable to make and fabulous to consume. The flavor of the saffron and olive sauce with the tender, juicy thighs make this recipe a keeper and a bargain if you’re looking for a delicious low cost meal.

Thanks, DiG! I’m happy that it worked out for you.

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