Chicken Basquaise (from the Basque Region)
Make sure your dog is guarding your home because this recipe will bring friends and family to your front door. So put on your beret, roll up your sleeves and go catch that chicken in the
A little background information because we start, one of the key ingredients to this dish is the Piment d'Espelette a hot pepper that will guarantee to widen your eyes a bit. This particular French pepper already hot tempered by its very nature, is produced in only ten small villages in France with a total growing area of just 3,000 acres, earning it the coveted Appellation d?Origine Contrôlée (AOC) designation. We know that AOC certification is granted to certain French products, like champagne, that are unique and grown in only one well-defined geographic region. Roquefort cheese was the first AOC product, designated in 1925. In any event, piment d'Espelette is harvested in late summer, when the bright red peppers are strung like the chile ristras of the Southwest US, and hung on the lovely white houses of the villages to dry in the sun.
Chicken Basquaise is a French Chicken Casserole Recipe that is popular in the Basque Country, a region that straddles the French-Spanish border along the western Pyrenees and the rugged coastline of the Bay of Biscay. It is both a mountainous and coastal region. The Basque region has its own history and cooking traditions that are somewhat distinct from the rest of France. It features lots of seafood (squid in its own ink is a popular delicacy but not on this watch), garlic, and olive oil and tends to be a bit spicier than most French cooking. As with all good French cooking, the emphasis is always on quality, fresh ingredients.
This classic recipe uses the traditional Basque ingredients of ham, bell peppers, and smoky paprika. This Basque Cooking recipe has the most wonderful flavors and should ideally be left for a day to develop it's true character overnight.
Total Time: 60 minutes
3 tablespoons all-purpose flour
2 teaspoons of piment d?Espelette (or paprika or smoky-sweet Spanish paprika or just blow off some steam with cayenne pepper -delicious)
3/4 teaspoon salt / 1/4 teaspoon ground black pepper or to taste
1 4-pound chicken, cut into 8 pieces
5 tablespooons olive oil
4 thick slices of unsmoked ham (such as prosciutto) approx. 1/2 cup chopped
12 fat cloves garlic, cut into thin slices
1 cup chicken stock
1 cup dry white whine
2 medium green bell peppers, cored, seeded, and sliced
2 medium red bell peppers, cored, seeded, and sliced
2 medium yellow onions thinly sliced
2 tablespoons chopped fresh parsley
2 pounds tomatoes or (1 28oz can imported plum tomatoes drained)
1 medium dried bay leaf 5 sprigs of thyme chopped / 2 sprigs of rosemary chopped
(4 ? 6 servings)
Stir the flour, paprika, salt, and pepper together on wide plate or wide, shallow bowl. Evenly coat the chicken pieces with the spices flour mixture and set them aside.
Heat 3 tablespoons of oil in a Dutch oven set over medium-high heat. Brown the chicken pieces for 3 to 4 minutes on each side. Cover the Dutch oven with a lid, turn the heat to low, and continue cooking the chicken for 15 minutes.
Add the ham, garlic, wine and chicken stock to the chicken, and then cover and cook for an additional 15 minutes. then stir in the sliced bell peppers into the mixture; add the herbs and cook for an additional 10 to 15 minutes, until the peppers are hot and tender. Do not overcook the peppers. In another large skillet, heat the remaining 2 tablespoons of oil over high heat until hot but not smoking. Add the onions. Reduce the heat to medium-low and cook until very soft, about 5 minutes or so. Add the tomatoes and continue cooking for another 30 minutes. You want your mixture to be soft and well blended.
To serve, layer the tomato and onion mixture on a platter then cover with the chicken and peppers, garnished with fresh parsley.
Note: This dish would go well with plain white rice, some sourdough bread and a good vins du pays.
After this meal you should be ready to make that midnight crossing over the Spanish border.