This classic combination of Mediterranean flavours is always welcome at my table. Hearty and delicious, the dish is done in a flash, making it all the more fitting for this busy preholiday period. The one challenge with chicken, however, is finding the precise point at which the meat is safely cooked all the way through while still moist and delicious. A reliable meat thermometer can help you find that sweet spot: At 165 F, chicken is perfect. Alternatively, you can do what cooks have done since the dawn of cooking: Sneak a peek inside the meat with a sharp knife. When it’s no longer pink and the juices run clear, dinner’s ready.
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1 tablespoon vegetable oil
4 boneless, skinless chicken breasts
1 large onion, chopped into large pieces
4 cloves garlic, chopped
1 tablespoon dried oregano
1 teaspoon salt
2 cups red wine
1 pint (500 millilitres) cherry tomatoes
1 cup pitted Kalamata olives
1⁄2 cup capers, drained
Freshly ground pepper
Set a large skillet with a tight-fitting lid over medium-high heat. Swirl in enough vegetable oil to cover the bottom of the pan. When the oil is hot, add the chicken. Sear the first side until golden brown and crusty, 4 to 5 minutes or so. Adjust the pan’s heat as needed, keeping it sizzling, but not so hot that the oil smokes.
Flip the chicken breasts over, cooking the other sides until they’re equally golden brown. Add a splash more oil if you think the pan needs it. The goal here is not to fully cook the meat but just to add flavour while the pan temperature is high.
Reduce heat to medium and remove the chicken breasts, placing them on a plate. Add the onion, garlic, oregano and salt to the pan. Sauté for a minute or two. Add the red wine, tomatoes, olives and capers. Turn the heat much lower, just enough to maintain a slow, steady simmer. Return the chicken to the pan, nestling the breasts into the stew. Cover tightly and simmer until the meat is cooked through (10 to 15 minutes). Turn the breasts once, allowing the flavour to fully permeate the chicken from all sides. Sprinkle with pepper to taste.