NAPOLEON RUSHES into General Carteaux's headquarters with plans to end the Seige of Toulon. General Carteaux ridicules Napoleon and leaves the inn with his men. Napoleon sitsdown and pores over the plans. Meanwhile, inn owner Tristan Fleuri, friend and scullion from Napoleon's school days, begs to interrupt -- to reintroduce himself to the famous Corsican.
"Captain," he begins, "I was . . ."
"Bread, olives and silence!" snaps Napoleon, turning back to his papers.
Abel Gance's four-hour movie portrays Napoleon Bonaparte as a frenzied man, pursued, fleeing, driven. After he meets Josephine, he's even more hurried; indeed, he rushes to his own wedding, hours late from studying war plans. Assigned to command the army of the Alps, Napoleon declares he will take Italy in three months -- he's in a hurry to get home to Josephine.
Perhaps Napoleon demanded bread and olives because he was always rushed. A quick, sturdy, delicious dinner could be eaten on the run with little preparation or thought.
Driven, perhaps not to the extent of France's war hero, but driven nonetheless, modern-day Americans have little time to think of fancy meals, much less prepare them. In honor of Napoleon, then, a simple dinner devised of bread and olives.
Every kitchen should be stocked with flour, sugar, salt, pepper, and oil (olive) or butter.
EXPRESS LANE LIST: garlic, chicken, lemon, onions, olives, pita bread, chicken broth, broccoli.
NAPOLEON'S CHICKEN (4 to 6 servings) 1 clove garlic, crushed Olive oil 1 broiler-fryer chicken, cut up, or 4 to 6 halved chicken breasts (boneless if preferred) 1 medium onion, sliced 1/2 cup green olives 1 1/2 lemons, quartered Chicken broth 6 pita breads
Steep garlic in about 1/4 cup of olive oil. Set aside. Coat the bottom of a skillet with olive oil and heat over a medium-high flame. Add chicken pieces and sliced onion. Brown chicken on all sides. Rinse olives well under running water. Add these to skillet along with 6 lemon quarters. Cover the skillet and lower heat. Cook chicken about 15 minutes, or until cooked through. Meanwhile, brush pita breads well with garlic-flavored olive oil. Toast the bread in a 400-degree oven about 12 minutes, until crisp. Remove from oven. Place each bread in the center of a plate and top with a portion of chicken. Add about 1/2 cup chicken broth to skillet and reduce slightly, scraping up browned bits. Spoon this, with olives and onions, over chicken. Serve with steamed broccoli, or fresh raw vegetables, and garnish with lemon quarters.