Wednesday, January 18, 2012

Basque Chicken with Bell Peppers

This delicious braised chicken hails from the Basque region, where the cuisine shows both French and Spanish influences. Chicken is simmered with spices, flavorful pancetta, and bell peppers. The result is tender, flavorful meat that falls off the bone, and a delicious homemade stock. Use a whole chicken that is cut up into 8 pieces so it will easily fit in a soup pot. Sometimes you can find "cut up chicken" at the grocery store (for example, our neighborhood Trader Joe's has it). If not, buy a whole roasting chicken and use a very sharp knife to slice off the wings, drumsticks, and thighs, then split the breasts down the center. Do not remove the bones or skin before cooking -- these add wonderful rich flavor to the stock.


3 tbsp flour
1 tsp Esplette pepper (may substitute paprika + pinch cayenne pepper)
1 whole chicken, cut into 8 pieces
1/4 cup olive oil
2 garlic cloves, chopped
1 cup chicken broth
4 oz pancetta
2 red bell peppers, cored, seeded, and sliced
2 green bell peppers, cored, seeded, and sliced
fresh parsley for garnish (optional) 

Note:  The original recipe calls for Esplette pepper, which can be difficult to find in the US. You may substitute paprika and a pinch of cayenne to create a similar flavor.


1.  Mix the flour and spice together on a plate. Dip the chicken pieces in the flour mixture and turn to coat the skin. 

2.  Heat the olive oil over medium heat in a deep, large pot. Saute the chicken skin side down for 5-7 minutes until browned, then flip and saute an additional 3 minutes on the other side. (Don’t worry if the breaded chicken doesn’t look pretty.) 

3.  Cover, reduce the heat to low, and simmer for 20 minutes.

4.  Add the pancetta, garlic, and chicken broth, and stir to combine. Cover and cook 10 minutes longer.

5.  Lift the chicken pieces and throw in the sliced bell peppers so they fall to the bottom, then replace the chicken on top of them. Cook covered for 20-30 additional minutes until the chicken is so tender it is falling from the bone.

6.  Serve garnished with parsley, stock, and cooked peppers. Enjoy with a slice of hearty bread.

Buen apetito!

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