Serious Eats: Recipes

French in a Flash: Tapenade Baked Chicken

[Photograph: Kerry Saretsky]

Lately I've become obsessed with one cooking shortcut: using spreads or sauces that I can buy premade and repurposing them as cooking agents. Last week, I baked fish in pesto. And this week, it's chicken in tapenade.

Think of chicken like a piece of bread. Who doesn't love bread with butter or olive oil? It's delicious, but it's also simple and, frankly, it feels like a starter. But when you slather your bread with tapenade, full of olives, anchovies, garlic, and herbs, it becomes a different dish—exciting and full of flavor. It becomes a meal.

Tapenade, like pesto, is blended together with olive oil, so in essence it's just a highly flavored cooking medium. Smother chicken in it and not only does it get coated with olive oil, but also crusted in olives and herbs. Bake it in the oven and, just like that, you've created something really different without having to stock your pantry or doing much prep work.

Although French food is at times very labor intensive—that is the artistry of the cuisine—the base flavors of the country are so beloved and developed that you can skip the labor and just make use of the best part: how delicious it is. Dinner in Provence tonight? And in less time than it takes to book a flight on I'm all for that.

About the author: Kerry Saretsky is the creator of French Revolution Food, where she reinvents her family's classic French recipes in a fresh, chic, modern way. She also writes the French in a Flash series for Serious Eats.

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