Pilaf of Saffron Chicken

Pair with Lytton Estate Syrah Grenache Mataro

Recipe by Richard Olney | Wine Pairing by John Olney

I began traveling to Europe at an early age, visiting the south of France where I spent time with my uncle, Richard Olney, the celebrated food and wine writer. Richard passed away in 1999, but his memory lives on through the food he created and the memories he made. For this year's Holiday Pairing Feast, I have chosen six of his classic recipes that pair perfectly with our wines. -John Olney, Head Winemaker

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Yield: 4-6 Servings


  • 3 chicken wings, tips removed & reserved for stock
  • 1 yellow onion, coarsely chopped
  • 4 garlic cloves, minced
  • 1 pinch saffron threads
  • 1 sprig fresh thyme (or 1 tablespoon dried thyme/oregano)
  • ½ teaspoon kosher salt
  • 1 cup long rice
  • 2 cups water
  • 3 tablespoons olive oil
  • Handful of nicoise olives


Choose a pan slightly larger than needed to fit chicken, a 10” wide and 2” deep being ideal. It should have a matching top that fits well. Salt wings on all sides and cut in two at the joint so they will lay flat in pan. Add olive oil to pan over high heat. Just as oil begins to smoke, reduce to medium heat and add wings, skin side down. Brown on all sides, remove to a plate and turn burner off.

Add the onions to the pan, distribute evenly, turn burner back on to medium and cook onions for ten minutes, stirring so they don’t burn. Add the garlic and continue to stir for 3 more minutes, reintroduce the chicken, turn heat to low, add the rice and stir to evenly mix all ingredients. Pour over the water, add saffron, stir to mix, add the olives and finally tuck in the sprig of thyme. Put the top on the pan, bring heat to low-to-medium, the water should come close to but never boil. Leave to cook 20 minutes, remove from heat, let dish rest for 5-10 minutes and serve. Salt and pepper to taste.

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