|Margarita's Restaurant Recipes|
I first had Basque Chicken in St. Jean Pied de Port, a small French-Basque town in the border with Spain. We had started off walking from Roncesvalles in the morning, but were lucky enough to get a ride to the border and then another one to town (at that time, at least, there was no public transportation covering this route). We had been amazed by the scenic beauty of this part of the Basque country, it's truly one of the most spectacular places in the world.
We explored the town and thought about continuing on further into France. However, our lack of time and the lack of public transportation deterred us. We didn't have very much money, so Mike and I shared a lunch of poulet basquaise. The dish was simple but was absolutely delicious, so much so that we remember it to the day.
This recipe for poulet basquaise is not exactly like the one we had in France, but it is wonderfully succulent and homey. It's the kind of dish that makes you think of family and home, and one that you can serve your family in a regular basis.
The dish calls for white pepper, but I didn't have any at hand so I substituted with black pepper. It also calls for piment d'Espelette, a type of pepper that shows up often in French Basque cooking. You can buy it a various places online, and of course, you use only a very little bit, but I've been adding it to many of my other dishes as well. I'm sure you can skip it if you want to avoid the expense, however.
1 5-lb chicken flour 1/2 cup olive oil 4 1/2 oz slice pancetta 1 yellow onion, thinly sliced 3 red peppers, peeled, cored & thinly sliced 10 garlic cloves, crushed 6 tomatoes, cored & coarsely chopped 1 bouquet garni (2 springs of parsley, thyme & bay leaves tied together) 1 tbsp. kosher salt 1/4 tsp. ground pepper 1/4 tsp. piment d'Espelette
Cut the chicken into parts, you should have 2 drumsticks, 2 thighs, 4 breast pieces and 2 breast-wing pieces. Discard the carcass. Dredge the chicken pieces in flour.
In a very large saucepan, heat 1/4 cup of olive oil over medium-high heat. Brown the chicken on the olive oil on both sides, about 5 minutes each (you may have to do it in batches). Remove the chicken from the pan and set aside and drain the fat from the pan.
Add the remaining olive oil to the pan and heat over medium-high heat. Add onion, bell peppers and garlic, sautee for about 5 minutes. Add the chicken, the pancetta, tomatoes, bouquet garni, slat, pepper and piment d' Espelette. Mix, cover and reduce the heat to medium. Cook until the chicken breasts are cooked, around 15-20 minutes. Remove the breast pieces and set aside. Continue cooking the rest of the chicken until done, about 20 minutes. Return the breasts to the pot and warm, about 3 to 4 minutes. Discard bouquet garni and serve.
Adapted from the recipe for Poulet Basquaise, page 121 of The Basque Kitchen.