This is one of those small effort, huge reward dishes that we all need more of in our lives. I like to serve the chicken over something that soaks up the delicious sauce: couscous, buttered egg noodles, mashed potatoes, or polenta. —EmilyC
1 to 1 1/2 pounds
boneless, skinless chicken thighs or breasts
plus 3/4 teaspoon Dijon mustard, divided
olive oil, divided
Aleppo pepper, or to taste
Kosher salt, to taste
pancetta, thin slices or coarsely chopped
small lemons (Meyer or regular)--one for slicing, one for juicing
In a bowl, combine chicken thighs, 1 tablespoon mustard, 1 tablespoon olive oil, Aleppo pepper, and 1/2 teaspoon salt. Toss well with your hands, smearing the mustard and seasonings evenly over both sides. Set aside.
In a 12-inch cast-iron or heavy nonstick skillet, heat 1 tablespoon olive oil over medium heat. Add the pancetta and cook, stirring every so often, until crisp, about 5 to 7 minutes. With a slotted spoon, transfer the pancetta to a paper towel-lined plate. Leave about 1 tablespoon of fat in the skillet; discard excess.
Add the chicken thighs to the skillet and cook over medium heat until browned on the first side, about 4 to 5 minutes. Flip; continue cooking until browned and meat is cooked through, about 4 minutes longer. Turn down the heat if the fond on the bottom of the pan starts to burn. Transfer the thighs to a plate and set aside. (Once cool, taste a little piece for seasoning; sprinkle some salt over the thighs if needed, keeping in mind that the pancetta and olives will add saltiness to the finished dish.)
Slice one lemon (well scrubbed) into paper-thin slices and remove the seeds. Add the sugar to a small bowl or plate, and dip the lemon slices in the sugar, coating lightly on both sides. Add to the skillet. Cook until they’re lightly caramelized, about a minute or two per side. Transfer to the plate with the chicken. Add the shallots to the skillet; season with a pinch of salt and saute for 5 to 7 minutes, or until browned and tender, scraping up the fond with a wooden spoon.
Add chicken stock and water to the skillet; bring to a boil, then lower heat to a simmer. Add 3/4 teaspoon mustard (stirring well to dissolve) and the olives. Simmer for a few minutes, then return chicken thighs and lemon slices to the skillet, along with any juices that accumulated on the plate. Adjust acidity and seasoning with lemon juice and salt, to taste, or a little more mustard.
Top with pancetta, and scatter with herbs. Serve warm.