There are quite possibly hundreds of variations on braising chicken in wine, but classic Chicken Provencal is definitely one of my favorites. While I find it to be a stunning presentation, the skillet of juicy chicken braised in wine and dotted with flavorful add-ins is comfort food at its best. Shallots, garlic, tomatoes, herbs, and a citrusy white wine all add to the flavor in this dish.
Since this is a classic braised recipe (meaning that majority of the cooking is in liquid in the oven) there is very little chance of the meat drying out and the dish ends up as a classic one-pot dinner.
The time on this recipe might seem daunting since it takes over an hour from start to finish but remember that almost all of it is hands off. That said, I usually save Chicken Provencal for the weekends, so I don’t feel rushed and let the braise do its magic in the oven. Once the skillet is in the oven, you can relax with a glass of wine and know that you will have a very special dinner ready in no time.
What is Chicken Provencal?
Chicken Provencal is a regional French recipe that can take on many forms. There is no one absolute recipe for Chicken Provencal, but there are some pieces that are integral to the success of the dish. The cut of chicken you use is important, as it is with any braised dish, but also the dish should include some lemons, briny ingredients like olives and/or capers, ripe tomatoes, and lots of herbs. Both dried and fresh herbs can work.
The skillet will have a wonderful sauce that created from the wine, chicken fat, and vegetables, so serving the dish with a crusty baguette or over rice is the only way to go.
What Cut of Chicken Works Best?
I know many people prefer boneless skinless chicken breasts when cooking chicken, but just know that you will not be maximizing your Chicken Provencal potential if you use that cut. There is almost no fat in chicken breasts, and they can dry out quickly as a result.
This dish works best with chicken thighs, bone-in and skin-on. Thighs can hold up to the braise and also the fat from the chicken renders out slowly into the skillet and helps season the rest of the braise.
Key Ingredients in Chicken Provencal
There is actually a fair amount of flexibility in a Chicken Provencal recipe. You’ll see some versions include just the basics with herbs and lemons while other recipes include add-ins like anchovies. But for my money, the following are the ingredients that are unskippable.
White Wine: This is a dish that really benefits from braising in a dry white wine, like Chardonnay. Since the wine goes in and deglazes the pan and then braises for some time in the oven, there is no hint of alcohol in the final dish and it’s 100% safe to serve to children. If you really wanted to substitute the wine, you can use chicken stock, but don’t tell your French friends.
Herbes de Provence: This is a wonderfully fragrant dried spice mix that you can find at almost any grocery store nowadays. I recommend store bought instead of making your own spice mix. Herbes de Provence includes dried spices like rosemary, thyme, oregano, lavender, marjoram, and basil. Making your own is possible, but probably more work than it’s worth.
Lemons: Bright acidity is important, and I like to use a whole lemon in my braise that I cut into eighths and sprinkle all over the chicken. The lemons aren’t really edible after the braise, but they give the dish a wonderful citrus zing. You should take them out before serving just so nobody accidentally gets one on their plate.
Let the Chicken Brown Well
The biggest tip to make this dish special is to give your chicken thighs time to really develop a nice crust and start browning in the skillet before you start the braise. I like to let my chicken brown, skin-side down, in the skillet for at least 10 minutes over medium-low heat. It might even take longer depending on your skillet.
Then you can flip the chicken and add all the other ingredients and stick it in the oven to braise for an hour without worries. Be sure to leave the skillet uncovered while it braises so the skin on the chicken gets even crispier.
Not Into Chicken Thighs? That's Ok!
If you wanted to substitute the chicken thighs in this recipe, you could use a whole chicken cut into pieces. If you wanted to use just chicken breasts, I would reduce the braising time to 30-40 minutes to avoid overcooking the chicken breasts. The sauce will need some fat if you do that substitution so add a few tablespoons of butter to the skillet before serving.
As far as other substitutions go, feel free to add any kind of olive or caper you like. Shallots, garlic, and tomatoes are all nice, but switchable for similar ingredients (sweet onions, for example).
Once you slide the skillet out of the oven, you’ll notice that there is a fair amount of sauce in the skillet. This stuff is golden and should be served along with the chicken and other ingredients. I like this dish over rice or served with a crusty baguette on the side. You need something to soak up that golden sauce.
Storing Instructions for Leftovers
Leftover Chicken Provencal keeps fine in the fridge for four to five days. It reheats best in the oven at 350˚F for 15 minutes or so until the chicken is warmed through, and the skin is crispy. If you microwave it, just know that you’ll lose any crispiness on the chicken skin.
More Braised Chicken Recipes
- Beer Braised Chicken and Onions
- Skillet Chicken Thighs with Potatoes, Carrots, and Greens
- Chicken Cacciatore
- Hearty Roasted Vegetable and Chicken Stew
- Chicken Stew with Coriander, Cilantro, and Chard
Classic Chicken Provencal
7-8 bone-in, skin-on chicken thighs
1 teaspoon kosher salt
1/2 teaspoon black pepper
2 tablespoons olive oil
1 tablespoon Herbes de Provence
4 large shallots, quartered
6 cloves garlic, peeled
1 pint cherry tomatoes
1/2 cup green olives, like Castelvetrano
1 lemon, cut into eighths
1 tablespoon capers
4 sprigs thyme
1 cup white wine, like Chardonnay
Rice or baguette, for serving
Preheat the oven:
Preheat the oven to 400°F.
Season and sauté the chicken:
Season the chicken thighs well on all side with salt and pepper.
In a large (at least 12-inch) oven-safe skillet or Dutch oven over medium-low heat, add olive oil. Add chicken thighs into the skillet, skin side down. Cook, untouched, for 8-10 minutes so skin can start to render and brown slowly.
While your chicken thighs start to brown, prepare the other ingredients.
Flip chicken and add remaining ingredients:
When chicken thighs have browned on one side, flip the chicken thighs. It can be helpful to use a thin spatula to make sure to get the skin loose from the skillet. Sprinkle chicken thighs with Herbs de Provence, shallots, garlic, cherry tomatoes, green olives, lemon wedges, capers, and thyme sprigs. Add the white wine to the skillet, around the chicken pieces.
Braise chicken in oven:
Place skillet in the oven and braise, uncovered, for one hour. The chicken is done when opaque all the way through and the thighs register at least 165°F in the middle.
Remove braise from oven, let cool, then serve:
Remove and let cool for five minutes and then serve over rice or with a crusty baguette.
|Nutrition Facts (per serving)|
|Amount per serving|
|% Daily Value*|
|Total Fat 35g||44%|
|Saturated Fat 9g||44%|
|Total Carbohydrate 82g||30%|
|Dietary Fiber 9g||31%|
|Total Sugars 15g|
|Vitamin C 83mg||417%|
|*The % Daily Value (DV) tells you how much a nutrient in a food serving contributes to a daily diet. 2,000 calories a day is used for general nutrition advice.|