Grilled Chicken In Half-Mourning


The irresistible name of this recipe caught my eye as I looked through Elena's Favorite Foods California Style (1967). It's a peasant rendition, author Elena Zelayeta writes, of a French dish in which sliced fresh truffles are tucked under the skin of a chicken. I have reworked Elena's recipe but left the name as it is, mysterious and pleasing.

Serves 4 to 6

3 boneless chicken breasts, skin on, cut in half
Olive Butter, cut into thin slices
Olive oil
Kosher salt
Black pepper in a mill
3/4 cup oil-cured black olives, pitted
2 teaspoons grated lemon zest
Sprigs of Italian parsleyPrepare a medium-hot fire on an outdoor or stovetop grill.

Place the chicken breasts, one at a time, on a work surface. Using your fingers, carefully loosen the skin of the breast and tuck several slices of olive butter between the skin and the meat. Repeat with all of the breasts. Brush both sides of each breast with olive oil, season them with salt and pepper, and set them, skin side down, on the work surface. In a small bowl, toss together the olives and the lemon zest. Divide the mixture among the chicken breasts, placing it in the center of each breast. Shape a breast into a roll, tucking the pointed end inside, and secure it with a metal skewer. Repeat with all of the chicken breasts.

Grill the chicken breasts, turning them frequently, until they are thoroughly cooked, 12 to 18 minutes, depending on their size. Line a platter with parsley, and place the chicken rolls on top. Serve immediately.

Olive Butter:
Use 1 small shallot, minced, 2 tablespoons minced olives, 1 tablespoon minced Italian parsley, and fresh ground pepper. Excellent with lamb and with pasta.


From: California Home Cooking
by Michele Anna Jordan
Harvard Common Press
$16.95 paperback, ISBN: 1-55832-119-5
$29.95 hardcover, ISBN: 1-55832-118-7
illustrated, 528 pages, 1997
Recipes and photos reprinted by permission.


California Home Cooking

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This page modified February 2007