Pyrenees chicken

This is a great dish if you’ve got lots of people to feed and also it’s super versatile and will go with lots of different sides. The recipe I followed was from Movida which is a Spanish food cookbook, which I confess I don’t use as often as I should due to the amount of preparation usually needed for it’s dishes. However, although you do tend to need quite a bit of time, the results are worth it. The book also has some commentary around the dish and it’s cultural history, which is an interesting read.

The idea behind this dish is creating a lovely, flavourful sauce, and then cooking the chicken in it for so long that the sauce has reduced to almost a thick coating. I’ll confess I didn’t get it to quite this stage and there was still a lot of sauce left when I served it (although the chicken was cooked perfectly) but that’s just as nice and went perfectly with the potatoes we served it with.

This easily serves four, I think you could stretch it to six comfortably with enough sides and perhaps dessert and/or starter depending on the appetite of whoever you’re serving!

So, just to let you know, the cooking and prep time for this is about 4 – 5 hours in total.

Ingredients: 

  • 1.6kg chicken, cut into about 10 pieces
  • 2 tbsp fresh thyme
  • 5 tbsp olive oil
  • 2 onions
  • 4 bay leaves
  • 5 garlic cloves
  • 4 peppers (any combination of red, orange and yellow)
  • 6 large tomatoes
  • 400ml white wine
  • 1 litre chicken stock
  • 3 tbsp Spanish sweet paprika

Initial preparation:

There’s a bit of chopping and prepping you can do first which will make it easier once you get started:

Prepare the chicken. You can obviously buy the bits of the chicken individually but you’ll get much more value (and meat) if you joint the chicken yourself. Don’t worry if you’ve never done it before – all you need is the internet, a sharp knife and a chicken. I used this video for guidance, which was pretty straightforward and made it simple. I ended up with about 10 pieces of chicken overall; really you probably want a couple of pieces per plate – or you may prefer just one big bit. It’s up to you!

Once you’ve got your chicken pieces, place in a bowl with the thyme, salt and pepper, and refrigerate, covered, until needed.

Also:

  • Chop and finely dice the onion
  • Separately, chop and finely dice all of the peppers, removing seeds and membrane
  • If you want to be super organised, roughly chop all the tomatoes. (There is time for this later as well.) The recipe does say you should peel and deseed them. I didn’t peel them, but did deseed them. Although it feels like you’re throwing quite a lot of the tomato away, including all the seeds would definitely make the sauce it too watery, so I think your options here are either a) abandoning the tomatoes and risking it with passata or using the discarded tomatoes for something else – maybe a salad?

Starting the actual cooking:

  1. Heat 2 tbsp of olive oil over a medium high heat in a heavy based saucepan. While it’s heating, finely chop or crush your garlic, then saute the onion, bay leaves and garlic for about 5 mins until the onion is soft, then reduce the heat to low.
  2. Add all the peppers, cover, and cook for about 40 minutes, stirring occasionally, until the peppers are soft. While they’re cooking, if you haven’t already, prepare your tomatoes.
  3. When the peppers are ready, add the tomatoes, stir and cover for another 30 mins, still stirring occasionally.
  4. Then add the white wine, turn the heat up a bit, and continue to cook for 10 minutes.
  5. Add the chicken stock and once it’s boiling reduce the heat to low again, add in the paprika and continue cooking gently for a further 30 minutes. The sauce should still be quite liquid at this stage. Preheat the oven to 200C or Gas Mark 6.
  6. Heat a tbsp of oil in a large heavy based frying pan over a high heat and add six pieces of chicken. After 30 seconds reduce the heat to medium, season with a pinch of salt and continue to brown the meat (the book suggests 4 minutes each side, which worked well for me).
  7. Once all the chicken has been browned, put it in a large oven or roasting dish, leaving a little room between each piece. Then cover with enough of the sauce to come up to just the top of the chicken. 
  8. Gently cook for 1 – 2 hours. As it’s cooking, the sauce will evaporate, creating a dark crusty top on the chicken – however watch the colour carefully because mine was verging on ateensy bit burnt, so I turned it down about an hour in. It’s ready to serve when the meat come away easily from the bone.
    • It’s during this final cooking time that you should probably start on any sides you’re intending to serve. This dish is so versatile I’m sure anything would go. I’d recommend something fresh and green, and if there’s any way you can incorporate a crunchy element, that would also be
      a nice contrast – perhaps some green beans with almonds?
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