Pollo en Pepitoría

Saffron Braised Chicken Thickened with Almonds and Egg Yolk

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The ‘slow foodies’ among you will appreciate this interesting little experiment. I got this recipe from my Aunt Andrea in Madrid. She always cooks this golden chicken dish the same way her family has for generations, by browning off nuggety pieces of Spanish chicken and then making a little picada out of pounded egg and almonds to thicken the sauce. It tastes so rustic and down to earth that I secretly call it Farmhouse Chicken. When I tested this dish for the book, I didn’t have one of my usual free-range chickens, so I had to get one of the kitchen team to pick up one from a supermarket. The result was good but the poultry flavour was missing. When made with a good free-range bird, however, the egg and saffron really intensify the flavour of the chicken and create a meal that tastes as close to old-fashioned farmyard chicken as you can get.

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Ingredients

  • 1.6 kg (3 lb 8 oz) chicken, cut into 12 pieces
  • seasoned plain (all-purpose) flour, to coat
  • 185 ml (6 fl oz/¾ cup) olive oil
  • 4 brown onions, finely diced
  • 4 bay leaves
  • 5 garlic cloves, sliced
  • 2 pinches of saffron threads
  • 750 ml (26 fl oz/3 cups) Spanish fino sherry
  • 250 ml (9 fl oz/1 cup) dry white wine
  • 6 juniper berries
  • about 700 ml (24 fl oz) chicken stock
  • 1 quantity almond picada
  • 1 large handful flat-leaf (Italian) parsley, roughly chopped

Method

Lightly coat the chicken pieces with the seasoned flour. Heat 125 ml (4 fl oz/½ cup) of the olive oil in a large heavy-based saucepan over high heat and add six pieces of chicken. After 30 seconds reduce the heat to medium and season with a pinch of salt. After 4 minutes, turn the chicken over, season the other side and cook for a further 4 minutes until lightly browned. Remove from the pan and repeat the process with the remaining chicken pieces.

Discard the oil, scrape the pan clean, and heat the remaining oil in the pan over medium heat. Add the onion, bay leaves and garlic and sauté for about 10 minutes until the onion is soft and beginning to brown. Add the saffron and cook, stirring, for 1 minute. Add the sherry and wine and scrape the bottom of the pan with a wooden spoon. Allow to boil for a few minutes then reduce to a simmer and cook for 10 minutes.

Add the chicken and juniper berries and cover with enough of the stock to just cover the chicken pieces. Increase the heat to high, bring to the boil then reduce to a slow simmer. Cover and cook for 1 hour. After 30 minutes check for seasoning and add salt if necessary.

When ready, the meat should be beginning to separate and come away from the bone. Just before serving, stir through the picada and simmer for 1 minute to thicken the sauce. Sprinkle with the parsley and serve.