Lucy Waverman recently published this recipe from Estonia in the Globe and Mail. She described it as a “powerful, full-flavoured but not spicy dish with the taste of the sun that we sorely need at this time of the year.” Estonia is in the Baltic region of northern Europe and Tallinn is its capital city. You can make this dish ahead, and serve it with rice or egg noodles. However to be truly Estonian, Lucy says to serve it with black rye bread.

Avoiding Additives and Preservatives

Make sure your spices do not contain colour or anti-caking agents. I used nitrite-free bacon instead of pancetta and a red wine with a sulfite count of less than 10 parts per million. Unico tomatoes and Pilaros olives are additive-free.

Season the chicken thighs

Use only the white and pale green part of the leeks

Brown the chicken well and set aside

Bacon and parboiled garlic add flavour

Saute the bacon and vegetables

Add spinach and chicken and then bake

Chicken from Tallinn


1 head garlic, separated into cloves

1 ½  lb (750 g) boneless skinless chicken thighs

½ tsp (2.5 ml) ground fennel

½ tsp (2.5 ml) chili flakes

1 tbsp (15 ml) finely chopped fresh rosemary or 1 tsp dried

Salt and pepper to taste

½ cup (125 ml) coarsely chopped pancetta

3 tbsp (45 ml) olive oil

4 leeks, white and light green parts only, well washed

½ cup (125 ml) red wine

1 ½ cups (375 ml) drained canned tomatoes, chopped

1 cup (250 ml) chicken stock

½ cup (125 ml) Kalamata olives, pitted, halved

1 tbsp finely chopped preserved lemon or 1 tsp grated lemon zest

4 cups (1 L) packed baby spinach

4 caper berries


Preheat oven to 400 F (205 C).

Bring a small pot of water to a boil. Remove root end from garlic cloves and add to water. Boil for 2 minutes. Drain and peel garlic cloves. Reserve.

Cut thighs in half. Sprinkle with fennel, chili flakes, rosemary, salt and pepper. Slice leeks on a diagonal into ½-inch (1.27 cm) pieces.

Heat oil in a large oven-proof skillet over high heat. Brown chicken in batches, about 2 minutes per side. Remove to a plate and reserve.

Add pancetta to pan and cook for 1 minute. Reduce skillet heat to medium-low. Add garlic cloves and leeks, and sauté 5 to 7 minutes or until soft. Add red wine and bring to boil, reduce by half. Add tomatoes and stock, and simmer for 5 minutes. Add olives and preserved lemon and season with salt and pepper. Remove from heat and stir in spinach. Return chicken to skillet.

Transfer to oven and bake for 10 to 15 minutes, or until chicken is no longer pink in centre. Sprinkle with parsley. Top each portion with a caper berry. Serves 4.

From Lucy Waverman