Guest Chick: Leslie Karst

Lucky us! And lucky you – a recipe and a giveaway. Today guest Chick Leslie Karst, author of the Sally Solari Mysteries, celebrates the launch of MEASURE OF MURDER, the second book in her series, by sharing one of her favorite recipes,  Martini Chicken.  Leslie’s also hosting a giveaway for one hardcover copy of A MEASURE OF MURDER, so make sure you comment on this tasty post.

Martini Chicken – the Best of Both Worlds

When Ellen Byron invited me to be a guest Chick-for-a-Day, I asked what sort of post she would like. Knowing that I write culinary mysteries, she suggested I submit a recipe. I liked that idea. Because, well, food is pretty much always on my mind. But then I started wondering, Now, what sort of dish would be appropriate for the Chicks on the Case blog?

And then I quickly realized the answer was obvious: Why, chicken, of course!

And how do Chicks like to relax between cases? Why, by sipping a soothing cocktail.

With these two things in mind, I therefore present one of my favorite recipes, which makes for a terrific dinner party entrée, since it’s colorful and attractive and can be prepared in advance. The meat is tender inside with a crispy skin, and the salty olives go swimmingly with the tart vermouth.

Here’s the history behind the dish: My parents used to talk about a trio of gay men they knew, then in their late seventies, who called themselves “the Martini Brothers.” Given this delightful moniker, my wife, Robin, and I were eager to make the acquaintance of the three of them, so my mom and dad arranged a meeting. We immediately hit it off and started getting together, often to drink—you guessed it—Martinis.

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A Martini on the rocks (as my dad likes them).

One of the trio came for dinner a while back, and as I was perusing a cookbook (Food and Wine magazine’s Best of the Best Cookbook Recipes) for ideas, I came across an entry entitled Chicken with Olives and Pine Nuts. It called for Italian olives and white wine. Why not substitute Martini olives and dry vermouth, and call it Martini Chicken, in honor of our guest?

The meal was a hit, and I’ve since made in multiple times. Here’s the recipe:

Martini Chicken serves 6 (one piece each)


1 tablespoon olive oil

1 tablespoon butter

6 med. cloves garlic, coarsely chopped

4 bay leaves

6 large chicken thighs

30 small Martini (Spanish) olives

1 cup white (dry) vermouth

chopped Italian parsley for garnish


Over medium flame, heat olive oil and butter in a heavy skillet until foam subsides. Lay chicken in the pan, skin side down, and scatter chopped garlic and bay leaves around the pieces.


Cover pan with lid or foil and let the chicken brown over a moderate heat for about ten minutes. Turn the chicken and continue cooking, still covered, for another ten or fifteen minutes, until cooked through. Spoon off any excess fat from pan (you can save this fat for frying vegetables to give them an extra chickeny flavor).

Scatter olives around the chicken and pour in the dry vermouth.

Raise the heat so that the liquid is boiling, and continue to cook, uncovered, until most of the liquid has evaporated.


Serve the chicken over cooked pasta (I used tri-colored rotini), drizzled with the remaining liquid from the pan and garnished with chopped parsley.


The dish can be prepared a few hours in advance and reheated right before service. Just make sure you heat the chicken again enough so that the skin regains its crispiness! (And, yes, the meal pairs quite nicely with a dry Martini!)

Buon appetito!


A MEASURE OF MURDER, book two in the Sally Solari culinary mystery series, was just released on February 7, 2017 (Crooked Lane Books).

Sally Solari is busy juggling work at her family’s Italian restaurant, Solari’s, and helping plan the autumn menu for the restaurant she’s just inherited, Gauguin. Complicating this already hectic schedule, she joins her ex-boyfriend Eric’s chorus, which is performing a newly discovered version of her favorite composition: the Mozart Requiem. But then, at the first rehearsal, a tenor falls to his death on the church courtyard—and his soprano girlfriend is sure it wasn’t an accident.

Now Sally’s back on another murder case mixed in with a dash of revenge, a pinch of peril, and a suspicious stack of sheet music. And while tensions in the chorus heat up, so does the kitchen at Gauguin, set aflame right as Sally starts getting too close to the truth. Can Sally catch the killer before she’s burnt to a crisp, or will the case grow as cold as yesterday’s leftovers?

“Engaging characters, terrific writing, and a savory blend of musical and culinary erudition…polymath Karst sauces her plot without masking its flavor. And she’s a dab hand with the red herrings.” Publishers Weekly starred review


The daughter of a law professor and a potter, Leslie Karst learned early, during family dinner conversations, the value of both careful analysis and the arts—ideal ingredients for a mystery story. She now writes the Sally Solari Mysteries (Dying for a Taste, A Measure of Murder), a culinary series set in Santa Cruz, California. An ex-lawyer like her sleuth, Leslie also has degrees in English literature and the culinary arts. She and her wife and their Jack Russell mix split their time between Santa Cruz and Hilo, Hawai‘i. Visit her online at and at


24 thoughts on “Guest Chick: Leslie Karst

  1. My husband loves chicken thighs while the kids and I love the breast. I wondered if you had tried using chicken breast in your recipe? Also is there a substitute for the alcohol? Your book sounds interesting and my fingers are crossed I might be the lucky individual to win a copy. robeader53(at)yahoo(dot)com


    1. Sure, you could use any part of the chicken, Robin, including the breast. Just make sure you don’t overcook them, though, as breasts (more than thighs) have a tendency to become dry if cooked too long. And you could use boneless breasts, too, but then you’d really need to reduce the cooking time. As for an alcohol substitute, you could try white grape juice with a tablespoon of white wine vinegar, or you could substitute chicken stock. (But note that in the recipe I gave, all of the alcohol will have cooked out of the vermouth by the time it’s done).


  2. Still trying to wrap my head around the whole chicken martini thing. 🙂

    The book is wonderful. (I’ve read it, so please don’t enter me in the drawing.)


  3. This sounds like a very interesting dish. It sounds tasty, but still have some uncertainty about it. 🙂 I loved the first book and would love to win the 2nd in the series. Thanks for the chance.


    1. If you’re uncertain about certain of the ingredients, Brian, feel free to experiment with substitutions; that’s what good cooking is often about! Maybe cherry tomatoes or caper instead of the olives, and white wine or sherry instead of the vermouth! Fun, fun, fun!

      Liked by 1 person

  4. WOW! Chicken…tasty! Martinis…tasty, too! Together…dinner tonight! I am very excited about this author and book. New-to-me and I am eager.

    Liked by 1 person

  5. The book and the recipe sound fantastic!

    I’ll probably get to the recipe before the book as my TBR pile is already precariously high but I am committed to both, Leslie.


  6. Looks delicious, Leslie! Thanks for sharing your culinary prowess and congratulations on the release of your second book!


  7. Leslie, thanks for hanging out with the Chicks today! I’m looking forward to reading A Measure of Murder!
    I plan to try out this recipe, but I’m a purist — I may add some gin to the vermouth 🙂

    Liked by 1 person

  8. Wowza, Leslie, what a great-sounding recipe. (Love the term “extra-chickeny flavor.”) And big congrats on Book Two! Can’t wait to read it.


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