Food

All the Flavors of Sun-Kissed Southern France in an Easy, One-Pan Chicken Dish

Chicken Provençal, a celebration of the region's bounty, is your one-pan ticket to Provence
BY Audrey Le Goff TIMEJuly 13, 2022 PRINT

Bursting with fresh flavors, classic chicken Provençal features wine-braised, crisp-skinned chicken with loads of melty garlic and shallots, briny bites of green olives, tender artichoke hearts, and sweet cherry tomatoes—all showered with fragrant herbes de Provence. It’s an uncomplicated recipe that will transport you to summer in the south of France.

Not a specific recipe, “Provençal” refers to the style of cooking that hails from the sun-kissed region of Provence. Often used for preparing chicken or fish, the Provençal style consists of using the abundant staple ingredients found in the region: extra-virgin olive oil and olives from the local groves, garlic (lots of it!), tomatoes, wine, and, of course, herbes de Provence (more on that in a bit).

There likely are as many variations of Provençal recipes as there are families in Provence. The main ingredients are always there, but others can be added for extra flavor: bell peppers, lemon quarters, artichoke hearts, anchovies, capers, and more.

For this version of chicken Provençal—perhaps one of the most common ones—the chicken is dusted with flour, browned in a pan, and then slowly oven-braised in a bath of wine studded with green olives, caramelized shallots, artichoke hearts, and cherry tomatoes. It makes for a deliciously juicy chicken with crisp, browned skin and a flavorful sauce—mopping it up with fresh, crusty bread is a must.

Chicken Provencal (9)
Herbes de Provence, a mix of dried herbs popular in the region, is key to the dish’s signature flavor. (Audrey Le Goff)

Herbes de Provence: Buy It or Make Your Own

Herbes de Provence is a key ingredient that gives chicken Provençal its signature flavor. This distinctive regional mix of dried herbs usually includes savory, marjoram, rosemary, thyme, oregano, and sometimes lavender.

In North America, herbes de Provence mixes can be found online, in specialty stores (in small jars), or in bulk stores. If you can’t get your hands on a pre-made mix, you can make your own at home: Simply combine equal parts of each dried herb. Keep the mix in a sealed jar in your cupboard for months.

Red or White? You Choose

Chicken Provençal is just as delicious made with white or red wine (but not rosé—keep that for sipping on the side). It just depends on the flavor profile you prefer.

Use red wine for deeper, warming flavors, or reach for white if you want lighter flavors with fruity notes. In either case, choose a crisp, dry wine—meaning one with high acidity—which is always the best choice for cooking. You shouldn’t cook with a pricey bottle, but don’t use the cheapest option either.

For red wine, great choices include merlot, pinot noir, or a light cabernet. For a white wine option, try pinot gris, sauvignon blanc, or, if you’re looking to stay on theme, a Provençal trebbiano.

Although not as traditional, some chicken Provençal recipes call for the use of vermouth, a fortified wine. This results in an even deeper flavor, with lovely botanical notes.

Prepping the Chicken

When preparing chicken, it’s always best to take it out of the fridge about an hour before cooking to bring it close to room temperature, for more even cooking. Then, pat it dry very thoroughly, which will help it achieve extra-crispy skin.

For this recipe, it’s important to use bone-in, skin-on pieces of chicken, as the bones and skin will lend so much more flavor to the sauce and dish as a whole. If you wish to remove the chicken skin for a healthier version, do so at the end, just before serving.

Chicken Provençal With Olives and Cherry Tomatoes

This easy, one-pan dish is perfect for weeknight dinners or entertaining guests. You can easily double the recipe to serve a larger crowd.

I like to use Spanish queen olives, as they are large, plump, and tasty. I prefer using olives with pits, as they are more flavorful, but for convenience, you can opt for pitted olives. Shallots can be substituted for pearl onions, and cherry tomatoes can be substituted with diced tomatoes (plum or heirloom varieties are best).

Be sure to have crusty bread on hand for sopping up the beautiful sauce, and a bottle of Provençal rosé for sipping as you eat. Bien sûr!

Serves 4

  • 4 skin-on chicken leg quarters (or 8 bone-in, skin-on chicken thighs)
  • 2 teaspoons salt
  • 1 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
  • 1/3 cup flour
  • 3 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil
  • 2 tablespoons herbes de Provence
  • 8 to 10 cloves garlic, peeled
  • 6 medium shallots, peeled and halved
  • 2 pints (4 cups) cherry tomatoes
  • 4 artichoke hearts, quartered (canned, drained)
  • 1 cup green olives (preferably with pits)
  • 1 cup dry red or white wine, or vermouth
  • 3 to 4 sprigs fresh thyme

Rinse the chicken pieces thoroughly and pat dry with paper towels to remove excess moisture, as this will help ensure the skin crisps up nicely when cooking. Season with salt and pepper on both sides.

Chicken Provencal (10)
Thoroughly dry the chicken pieces and season with salt and pepper. (Audrey Le Goff)

Place the flour in a shallow plate. Dredge each chicken piece in the flour, coating evenly on all sides.

Chicken Provencal (1)
Evenly coat the chicken pieces with flour. (Audrey Le Goff)

Preheat the oven to 400 degrees F, with rack in the middle.

Heat the oil in a large oven-proof pan (one that has a lid), and add the chicken pieces, skin side down. Cook over medium-high heat, uncovered, without disturbing for 6 to 7 minutes, until the skin is golden brown and easily releases from the pan. Flip the pieces and cook for another 6 to 7 minutes.

Chicken Provencal (2)
Brown the chicken on both sides in a hot pan, and sprinkle with herbes de Provence. (Audrey Le Goff)

Sprinkle the chicken pieces with the herbes de Provence. Arrange the garlic cloves, shallots, cherry tomatoes, green olives, and artichokes around the chicken. Pour the wine into the pan. Arrange a few sprigs of thyme on top of the chicken.

Chicken Provencal (3)
Add the garlic, shallots, tomatoes, olives, artichokes, wine, and thyme, then transfer to the oven to braise. (Audrey Le Goff)

Cover the pan with a lid and transfer to the oven. Bake for 20 minutes. Remove the lid, baste the chicken with the pan juices, and cook for another 20 to 25 minutes, uncovered, until the chicken is cooked thoroughly and browned.

Chicken provencal served
Serve with crusty bread to sop up the flavorful sauce. (Audrey Le Goff)

Serve over rice, potatoes, or cannellini beans—with crusty bread for dipping.

Audrey Le Goff is a French food writer, photographer, and creator of the food blog PardonYourFrench.com, where she shares recipes and stories from her beloved home country, France. She is the author of the cookbook “Rustic French Cooking Made Easy” (2019). She currently lives in Niagara, Canada. Follow her on Instagram @pardonyourfrench.
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