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Cooking with Fig & Olive: The Cuisine of the French Riviera

Fig & Olive Cookbook Recipe

Well, it’s the New Year. The holidays are behind us and if my Facebook news feed is any indication, I’m not the only one looking to get serious about eating right after a month long blow out. Okay, it might have been two months. The timing could not have been better to receive a copy of Fig & Olive, The Cuisine of the French Riviera.

This bi-coastal restaurant shares many of the recipes that have made it a popular dining destination. The recipes feature fresh, colorful ingredients with flavorful olive oils used in place of butter and cream.

After flipping through and considering recipes to try out for dinner such as Whole Branzino stuffed with lemon, rosemary, thyme and garlic; Côte de Boeuf With Olive Oil Bérnaise; and Seared Orange Scallops with carrot purée, I came upon Francine’s Chicken. This lemony recipe looked simple and delicious and I had most of the ingredients on hand with the exception of the chicken thighs and shallot powder. In the interest of health, I also needed a vegetable to serve so I chose the Zucchini Carpaccio.

zucchini

Off to the store I went to buy skin-on boneless chicken thighs, shallot powder and zucchini. As it turns out my grocer did not have skin-on boneless chicken thighs, so I bought two whole chickens and cut them up myself. Now I have all kinds of chicken parts for other dishes along with some bones and backs for stock in my freezer. Chicken is much cheaper purchased whole anyway. Though cutting up a whole chicken isn’t for everyone, my dad taught me how when I was young and it always reminds me of good times I had learning with him in the kitchen.

The other ingredient I could not find at my grocer was the shallot powder. I have never tried shallot powder, but since it didn’t seem to be a make or break ingredient, I decided not to drive myself nuts searching for it and instead substituted with a mixture of onion powder and a little garlic powder that I had on hand. It was the closest I could come and I’m fairly certain it was close enough.

Preparation was ridiculously simple. Mix some lemon juice with olive oil, a little salt and pepper in a skillet and place the thighs in skin side up to marinate the bottoms. Season the skin side with a little salt, pepper, and “shallot powder”, brush with Dijon, and top with a half slice of lemon… organic lemon, since you will be using the rind. Let marinate for an hour. I let it marinate for longer, however when I make it again, I’ll stick to just one hour to tone down the lemony flavor just a bit.

Lemon Chicken

While the chicken was marinating, I busted out my mandolin and using one notch lower than the 1/8” marked setting, I sliced a medium sized zucchini into coins and shaved some Parmesan cheese using a hard cheese slicer. If you don’t have a hard cheese slicer get one. You will have thin slices of Parmesan that curl slightly and are nearly impossible to replicate with a knife. Or use a potato peeler for thin little strips. Also, if you don’t have a mandolin, use a knife to slice zucchini as thin as you can. A mandolin is faster and easier.

You know what’s even easier about this? Very few prep dishes. The skillet goes straight into the oven where the chicken broils on a high rack in the oven, close to the broiler until done at 155° to 165°, with a nice bronzed skin and some char on the lemon. Beautiful!

Note: The recipe says to broil for 5 to 8 minutes, and then cover with tin foil and allow to rest in the oven for 10 minuets with the heat off and the door ajar. But every oven is different and mine took longer to brown so I omitted covering it and let it continue to broil to achieve the golden color. The lesson here? Go by your meat thermometer, your eyes and your preference. Also, though the recipe does not call for herbs, I love the combination of tarragon with lemon, so when I make it again, I am adding some fresh tarragon to the skillet.

A few minutes before the chicken was done I arranged the zucchini rounds on a plate, sprinkled with a little flaky sea salt and ground black pepper, drizzled extra virgin olive oil and fresh lemon juice, and then finished with the shaved Parmesan and some toasted pine nuts. So refreshing.

You’ll find Francine’s Chicken recipe, as written by the author in the book below. Francine is Laurent Halasz, the founder of Fig & Olive’s mom and her chicken is delicious!

I love dinners that can be repurposed into a second meal later. And wouldn’t you know, I found a Poached Egg Truffle With Broiled Chicken & Parmesan recipe in the salad section. This made for the perfect lunch and I actually enjoyed it even more than the original dinner, with each component complementing the other so beautifully.

I arranged some baby arugula very lightly tossed in aged balsamic vinegar and extra virgin olive oil, sea salt and ground black pepper on a plate. Then I placed a warmed chicken thigh on top of the arugula with a poached egg next to it and garnished with shaved Parmesan cheese. For color I added a few gooseberries and blackberries I had on hand. When I popped the yolk on the poached egg it spilled into the arugula, creating a creamy luxurious dressing.

The salad was fantastic and would actually make a great dish for entertaining with friends as you can pre-make each component including the poached eggs, leaving dressing the arugula, reheating the poached eggs and chicken, and plating for the last few minutes.

A few tips on poaching eggs. I use Alton Brown’s technique.  To store poached eggs, you may keep them in cold water up to 5 days. When you are ready to reheat place in a pan of hot water high enough to cover the eggs for 2 minutes.

The dish is beautiful and is proof you really don’t have to deprive yourself to eat on the healthy side!

They say a picture is worth a thousand words and with gorgeous photographs and simple instructions, you won’t be left guessing as to how your dishes will look when you’re done. You may order your copy of Fig & Olive The Cuisine of the French Riviera here.

Ingredients:

  • Juice of 1 lemon
  • Salt and freshly ground black pepper
  • 2 Tbsp extra-virgin olive oil
  • 4 bonelss chicken thighs, skin on
  • ¼ cup Dijon mustard
  • 1 Tbsp shallot powder
  • ½ lemon, thinly sliced

Instructions:

  1. In a large baking pan, combine half the lemon juice, some pepper, and 1 tablespoon of the olive.
  2. Lightly brush the underside of the chicken with this mixture and place in pan skin-side up.
  3. Brush some mustard on the skin side and sprinkle with salt, pepper, and shallot powder.
  4. Add the rest of the lemon juice and 1 tablespoon olive oil around but no on top of the chicken.
  5. Top each piece of chicken with a half-slice of lemon,
  6. Let marinate for at least 1 hour.
  7. Pre-heat broiler.
  8. Place the pan close to the broiler for 5 to 8 minutes until the skin is crisp and golden (be careful not to burn).
  9. Remove from oven and cover with aluminum foil.
  10. Turn off heat and return pan to oven for 10 minutes to finish cooking, leaving door slightly ajar.
  11. The marinade will make a ready-to-serve sauce.
Dana Wilde grew up playing “sous chef” for her father as he churned out one amazing meal after the next for family and friends. She inherited her father’s life long passion for cooking and has spent the past two decades studying, reading, practicing, experimenting, and creating in the kitchen.

Complimentary cookbook provided from Fig & Olive

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