Chicken braises are so delicious. POULET BASQUAISE is one of my favorite chicken braises. It comes from the border area FRANCE shares with SPAIN and there are many regional dishes which cross over even though Spanish Basques and French Basques can be different in many ways. Chicken Basque style is the Basque cousin of Italy’s Pollo alla Cacciatora (Chicken Cacciatore)since it’s a whole cut chicken, browned in Olive Oil, then braised in a “Piperade”, a Basque specialty of slow cooked peppers, tomatoes,onions, garlic, and many times ham. The ham is really a prosciutto type of ham..cured not smoked and is a specialty of BAYONNE , France. Bayonne Ham is not readily available so you can use Prosciutto, just not smoked ham. The ham is sliced, or diced and tossed into the saute’ at the beginning so it imparts some of that porky flavor to the chicken.. VERY NICE!! Today is Februrary 11 and in the French Catholic Calendar it’s the Feast of Our Lady of Lourdes which is a small town just outside the PAYS BASQUE but close enough for me to tie in blogging this dish today. Many vacationers to the PAYS BASQUE will make a close side trip to Lourdes and maybe have a plate of POULET BASQUAISE. On a trip to Provence a few years ago I saw this dish on the menu and had to order it. I’ve had it in NYC before and Provence was as close to Pays Basque as I was getting. I’ve also made the dish in my kitchen so I wanted to see if I was close to the French versions. I was. I wonder if any of those pilgrims in that engraving of the Shrine of Lourdes fortified their bodies with Poulet Basquaise after fortifying their souls at the shrine? A Food Obsession wonders these things..just sayin. A great dish for the middle of the Winter and a great add to your list of dishes, ESPECIALLY when you’re moaning…”CHICKEN AGAIN, I’M SO SICK OF CHICKEN…I DON’T WANT TO MAKE IT THE SAME OLD WAY!” I’ll be your Tired Kitchen 911. Here to keep your kitchen vibrant and happy!!
SERVES: 4-5 TIME: 1 Hour 20 minutes to prep and cook. 3hours to let sit before serving.
1 ORGANIC OR NATURAL CHICKEN, cut into 10 pieces
2 ONIONS, sliced
2 RED PEPPERS , sliced
2 GREEN PEPPERS, sliced
1/4 lb diced BAYONNE HAM or PROSCIUTTO (NOT SMOKED)
2 CLOVES GARLIC, sliced
1 28 oz CAN IMPORTED PLUM TOMATOES (like San Marzanos)
1/2 TSP. ESPLETTE PEPPER or HOT HUNGARIAN PAPRIKA
1/2 CUP WHITE WINE
1/8 CUP OLIVE OIL
BAY LEAF, PARSLEY SPRIG, 3 THYME SPRIGS TIED TOGETHER
Heat 1/2 the oil in a dutch oven. Season the chicken pieces with the Espelette or Cayenne pepper (ok, calm down, i’ll give you a nice side note on the bottom about Espelette) and Salt. Brown the chicken, skin side down first. About 10 minutes to get the skin rendered and colored nicely. Flip and cook another 7 minutes. With tongs, remove the chicken to a bowl. Deglaze the pan with the wine scraping up all those delicious bits from the bottom . THAT IS PART OF THE FLAVOR OF YOUR SAUCE! Pour this over the chicken in the bowl and cover. Add the balance of the olive oil to the pan and saute’ the ham until it gets slightly caramelized. Take about 5 minutes, now add the Peppers and Onions and lightly salt this. Cook for a at least 8 minutes until the peppers and onions are soft. Add the chicken to the pot. Pour the bowl juices over the chicken, then the tomatoes. Stir. Add the herbs. Cover and let this cook for 20 minutes on medium. Now uncover and let this cook for another 20 minutes. The sauce will reduce and concentrate with all those flavors and the chicken will be fork tender. Taste…TASTE TASTE TASTE!!!! Check for seasoning, Remove the herbs. Important step here…close the pot and let it sit on the back of the stove for at least 3 hours. Then reheat and serve. There’s magic in all those steps. OH the aroma from these herbs, spices, wine, chicken , and vegetables! Let’s talk ESPELETTE. It’s a chile pepper that is grown in the PAYS BASQUE region of France in the town of ESPELETTE, funny how that happens! It’s sweet and spicy and smoky, sort of like Hot Hungarian Paprika which is why it’s a decent substitute. It’s available at well stocked spice markets or on line. Cayenne works too.
I was served my Poulet Basquaise with linguine, maybe because I was eating it in Provence? Closer to Italy? I think roasted potatoes go nice with this along with a side salad with some goat cheese and pears or apples, frisee or chicory, and a dijon vinaigrette. Rice is another choice. Up to you. HAPPY COOKING!!!Don’t forget some sliced baguettes to pick up that sauce. BON APPETIT!!!