Skillet Chicken with Pancetta, Olives and Caramellized Lemon

I adapted this recipe from Emily C and seen on Food52, ever-so-slightly.  Aleppo pepper is currently difficult to find, so I substituted 1/2 t Smoked paprika + 1/4 t Cayenne pepper for the Aleppo pepper.  Also I used Meyer lemon for the lemon, since it has a lesser “bite” than do regular lemons.

I recommend using Castelvetrano olives in this recipe.  Their flavor is milder and more on the “buttery” side compared to other olives.  They come pitted as well as with pits.  The kind with pits are preferable because they are not quite as salty as when pitted.  In  a salty dish like this, it’s best to err on the less salty side, because you can always add salt to a dish if desired.

Once you have all of the ingredients prepped it’s a pretty quick process to get this wonderful dish on the table.

  • Author: Laura
  • Prep Time: 20 in
  • Cook Time: 30 min
  • Total Time: 50 min
  • Yield: 4 servings 1x
  • Category: Chicken


  • 11 1/2 lb. Boneless, Skinless Chicken thighs or breasts
  • 1 T plus 3/4 t Dijon mustard, divided
  • 2 T Olive oil, divided
  • 1/2 t Smoked Paprika
  • 1/4 t Cayenne Pepper
  • 4 oz. Pancetta, coarsely cubed
  • 2 Meyer lemons – one for slicing, one for juicing (regular lemons OK to substitute)
  • 1 T Granulated Sugar
  • 1 Lg Shallot, thinly sliced
  • 1 1/4 c Chicken Stock (salt-free preferred)
  • 1/2 c Castelvetrano olives, pitted, torn into irregular pieces
  • (optional) Handful of fresh parsley or Dill, coarsely chopped
  • (optional, but recommended) Egg noodles, rice, and/or crusty bread, for serving


Prep the Chicken

  1. Place the chicken portions in a bowl with 1 T mustard, 1 T olive oil, the paprika and cayenne, and 1/2 t salt.  Toss well with your hands, making sure all ingredients are well-distributed.  Set aside.

Cook the Dish

  1. In a large, heavy pan (cast-iron or similar), heat the remaining Tablespoon oil over medium heat. Add the pancetta and cook 5-7 minutes until it begins to brown around the edges and becomes crispy.  Remove with a slotted spoon to a paper-towel-lined plate.  Remove all but 1 T fat from the pan.
  2. Add the chicken pieces to the hot pan, keeping heat at Medium. Brown the first side 5 minutes, turn and cook 3-5 minutes longer.  Chicken thighs take around 8-10 minutes total, breasts 8-9 minutes. If the contents of the pan starts to burn, turn heat down before proceeding. Remove chicken pieces to a serving plate or platter.
  3. Slice one of the lemons in paper-thin slices. Place the sugar on a small plate or on your cutting board.  Dip each side of each slice lightly in the sugar, and place all slices in the pan to caramellized.  This will take about 1 – 1 1/2 minute per side. Remove the caramellized lemon slices to the plate with the chicken pieces.
  4. Add the sliced shallots to the pan, along with a good pinch of salt. Cook 5-7 minutes, stirring occasionally until tender and well-browned, scraping pan with a wooden spoon as needed.  Lower heat if they start to blacken a bit.
  5. When shallots are done, add the chicken stock. Bring to a boil and add the remaining 3/4 t mustard.  Stir until well-combined.  Test the flavor of the sauce (careful:  HOT!), adding any salt as needed. (I found mine plenty salty at this point.)  Add the torn olives, simmer 2 minutes longer.  Then add in chicken pieces and lemon slices, along with any juices on the plate.  Adjust flavor to your liking by adding any additional mustard or lemon juice you might like.  Simmer 2-3 minutes.  Remove chicken pieces to serving platter and pour the sauce over the chicken.   Top with reserved pancetta, and herbs.
  6. (optional) Serve with noodles, rice, and crusty bread to sop up the wonderful sauce!


Keywords: Skillet Chicken, pancetta, olives

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