Pollo al Chilindrón

Pyrenees Chicken with Paprika, Tomato and Capsicums

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Preparation info

  • Difficulty

    Medium

  • Media Racion

    6

Appears in

MoVida

By Frank Camorra and Richard Cornish

Published 2007

  • About

Aurora, mother of the owner of the bar, Bodega de Pepe, in which Vanessa and I worked, taught us how to cook this wonderful sauce, which is made from dried peppers. I remember the day she showed us this dish so well, because just prior to cooking she had taken us on an impromptu tour around town. As we wandered the narrow streets she very quietly and solemnly pointed out Civil War battle sites. On one side of the street were the Monarchists and on the other were the Republicans. She said that in the middle — ‘la sangre corría por las calles’ — the streets ran with blood. The Spanish Civil War was such a time of social upheaval with family turning on family and village turning on village, that I think we are lucky that the Spanish culture remained intact. War destroys societies. Food brings people together, whether preparing, eating or talking about it.

We went back to the kitchen and Aurora carefully showed us how to cook the pimientos choriceros and reduce the sauce. As these peppers are so difficult to come by we have adapted the recipe to use red capsicums. Once you know how to cook the sauce you can use it for any lean poultry, game birds, rabbit and, in the next chapter, lamb. It makes a beautiful looking dish of dark chicken and deep red sauce. Bring it to the table and share it with your family.

Ingredients

  • 1.6 kg (3 lb 8 oz) chicken, cut into 12 pieces
  • 2 tablespoons thyme leaves, roughly chopped
  • fine sea salt
  • 185 ml (6 fl oz/¾ cup) olive oil
  • 2 brown onions, finely diced
  • 4 bay leaves
  • 4 garlic cloves, finely chopped
  • 4 red capsicums (peppers), seeded, membrane removed and finely diced
  • 6 large tomatoes, peeled and chopped
  • 500 ml (17 fl oz/2 cups) dry white wine or fino sherry
  • 3 tablespoons Spanish sweet paprika

Method

In a large bowl, season the chicken pieces with the thyme, a few good pinches of fine sea salt and ½ teaspoon freshly ground black pepper. Cover and refrigerate until ready to use.

To make the chilindrón sauce, heat 60 ml (2 fl oz/¼ cup) of the olive oil over medium–high heat in a large heavy-based saucepan. Sauté the onion, bay leaves and garlic for about 5 minutes until the onion is soft. Reduce the heat to low–medium.

Add the capsicum, cover and cook for 40 minutes, stirring occasionally, until the capsicum is soft. Add the tomato, stir, cover and cook for 30 minutes, stirring occasionally.

Add the white wine and continue to cook for 10 minutes. Add about 1 litre (35 fl oz/4 cups) hot water and increase the heat to high. Once the water is boiling, reduce the heat to low, add the paprika and continue cooking the sauce gently for a further 30 minutes. The mixture should still be quite liquid at this stage.

Meanwhile, preheat the oven to 200°C (400°F/Gas 6).

Heat the remaining olive oil in a large heavy-based frying pan over high heat and add six pieces of chicken. After 30 seconds reduce the heat to medium. Season the chicken with a pinch of salt. After 4 minutes turn the chicken over and season the other side. Cook for a further 4 minutes until lightly browned. Remove the chicken from the pan and set aside. Repeat with the remaining chicken pieces.

Once all the chicken has been browned put it in a large roasting tin, leaving a little space between each piece. Cover the chicken with enough chilindrón sauce to come up to just the top of the chicken.

Gently cook in the oven for 1–1½ hours. As it is cooking the sauce will evaporate, creating a dark crusty top on the chicken. The chicken is ready when the thigh flesh comes away easily from the bone. Serve immediately.