I’ve not long returned from my morning club training ride and am currently sat watching today’s stage of Le Tour on Eurosport when suddenly the commentators read out their recipe of the day; it would seem that food and cycling are not just loved by me. Having listened to their recipe it reminded me that I had a new recipe to post from earlier this week and so here it is.
Firstly I would like to apologise to all Spanish people for any lack of authenticity in this dish. I refer to it as a Spanish style stew as I took inspiration from the combination of flavours that you find in chorizo when putting this together. I have since found a recipe for a Valencian style fish stew that is pretty similar to this so perhaps there is something like this in Spanish cuisine. This is not a particularly difficult meal to put together and is great for a dinner party as you can present the completed stew in a large bowl so that everyone can help themselves. It is also really versatile in that the basis to the dish can be paired with chicken (as I have in this version), white fish, shellfish, rabbit, or any combination of these; alternatively you could just leave it as it is without any additional protein beyond the chorizo. This is one of my staple dishes that I like to make and I have made additions to it over the past few years; it is also one of Yolanda’s favourites and she is half Spanish so I must be doing something right. The version below is the most recent one and I do not think that it will deviate much more in future from this incarnation, although certain ingredients will probably come and go. So that is probably enough of the back story to this dish, I should probably get on with telling you what’s in it.
To start with I trim the skin from the chicken thighs, which still have the bone in, and sprinkle the skin with some salt. These are added skin side down to a large casserole pan that has been on the hob with a good glug of oil heating up , I have also pre-heated the oven at around 200c. Whilst the chicken is browning off and the skin crisping up I slice an onion, two peppers (whichever you prefer), half a cured chorizo, crush and chop a few cloves of garlic and slice a couple chillis. Once browned I remove the chicken thighs from the pan and place on a baking tray before sprinkling over some paprika. You can either cook these in the oven now or a little later depending on how long you want to cook the stew for, they will be added to the casserole later anyway. The reason that I cook the chicken separately is twofold; firstly to keep the skin crisp and secondly so that it doesn’t get in the way when I am stirring the casserole, which is especially pertinent if you don’t have a large pan to use.
Once the chicken is out of the pan add more oil as required before adding the onions to the pan to sweat down. Once they have done so I tend to add the rest of the ingredients at once, maybe the chorizo a little before the others and saving the garlic to the end so that it doesn’t burn. Give that a few minutes to cook down before adding some paprika (smoked and/or hot) and if you want some more spice a little cayenne pepper. I probably make this dish a bit hotter than it would be in Spain but that is my choice. I also add some tomato puree and fry this off a bit before pouring in a glass of red wine (Rioja obviously) and letting that reduce and the alcohol burn off. Once this has reduced I add two cans or cartons of chopped tomatoes and a little water to top it up and then leave this to simmer for around 30-45 minutes depending on how hungry I am. Whilst this is happening I cook the chicken in the oven as mentioned previously.
As you are approaching time to serve up now is the time to add the finishing touches to the stew that will make it a little more interesting, as at the moment it will not look much. Around 10 minutes before serving up I stir in some beans, normally I use either butter beans or cannellini beans as their white colour contrasts well with the red of the sauce. You could use whichever beans you fancied as far as I am concerned, maybe even peas although I’ve not done this before, but definitely add some as they are essential. I also add the chicken to the stew at this point and stir in all the juices that have seeped from the meat while roasting in the oven. I try to keep the skin above the surface of the stew so that it remains crisp but sometimes I just let it be. Then with around 5 minutes to go I stir in some black olives that have been halved. This is a fairly new addition as I am not a big fan of olives…I know, what a terrible thing to admit to! I have come to accept them within this recipe and it just would not be the same without them in all honesty. Finally a few minutes before serving I stir in a decent amount of chopped flat leaf parsley including the stalks, holding back some of the chopped leaves for decoration. This time round I also chopped up some anchovy fillets that we had as I thought they would really boost the flavour of the stew, which they did.
Plating was as easy as it comes, stews always are. I poured all of the stew into a large serving bowl and sprinkled over the remaining parsley, I sometimes add wedges of lemon as well but as it was only me eating I didn’t bother. I served this up with some savoy cabbage that I fried off in butter, placing the chicken stew on top of this on the plate. A crack of black pepper (obviously I have seasoned during the cooking but cannot resist an additional couple of twists) and the dish is good to go, you should serve up with some crusty bread as well to mop up the sauce as there are no starchy carbs in this at all. The flavours in this dish all work fantastically together as you would expect given that they are used in chorizo. The olives and the anchovies add an earthy, salty, sweetness that compliments the rich tomato sauce really well. As I mentioned this dish can be made with fish and is particularly good with mussels. I’ve been eating this for the last couple days and all the chicken has now been eaten, however I do have some of the sauce left which I will be having this evening with some cod loin.