I am currently on a three-week long trip through the Mediterranean – by way of cooking. At the culinary (as we call the CIA in upstate New York), we are exposed to several days of each Mediterranean region’s cuisine. In the onslaught of spanakopita, risotto and sweetbreads, I have actually fallen in love with the food of Spain.
What I’ve come to love about true Spanish food is that it is simple. One-pot-wonders like paella, and simple tapas to pair with sherry or a sassy red and friends. This pollo al chilindron, or chicken with peppers, hails from Navarra and is a perfect example of fresh ingredients and simple technique. Serrano ham and saffron are not a hard sell, either.
When tasked with cooking this dish in class, I wondered about its flavor potential – as the ingredients are fairly commonplace. But that’s the idea behind Spanish regional cuisine – great ingredients make great food, no fuss. This one is fun, too, because the recipe calls for a flambé with brandy. Bringing it.
As my team and I quickly learned, the Spanish paprika, or pimentón, is the key to a succulent and seductively spicy chicken dish. Not to worry, a nice smoked paprika is a great substitute. This dish can be served family style – a bowl of the saucy wings – or the meat can be pulled from the bone and enjoyed on toast. Either way, it’s simple, savory and satisfying. And from Spain, but I think I already mentioned that.
- 3 Roma tomatoes, peeled, seeded and diced
- 15 chicken wings, buffalo style (or ½ lb chicken thighs, boneless)
- 1 red onion, medium, minced
- 3 garlic cloves, minced
- 1 green pepper, small dice
- 1 red pepper, small dice
- ½ cup Serrano ham, small dice
- ¼ cup brandy
- ½ cup chicken stock, warm (adding a pinch of saffron is optional)
- 2 tsp pimentón (Spanish paprika)
- Olive oil for pan
- Kosher salt and black pepper
- 1 tsp Italian parsley, chopped
- Set a large pot of water to boil and fill a bowl with ice water. Cut an “x” on the bottom of the tomatoes. Add them to boiling water and cook until skins begin to pull back, no more than a minute. Immediately plunge in ice water until cool enough to handle. Peel tomatoes gently, remove seeds and stem, and dice.
- Season chicken with salt and black pepper. In a large sauté pan over medium-heat heat, cook chicken in olive oil until golden brown on both sides. Add brandy, and flambé (if desired) until alcohol burns off and brandy is reduced almost completely. Remove chicken and set aside.
- Add onions and peppers to pan, and cook until light golden brown. Add garlic and cook one minute, until fragrant. Stir in tomatoes, Serrano ham, pimentón and chicken wings. Simmer over medium-low heat for 15 to 20 minutes. Add more chicken stock if necessary to maintain a sauce consistency. If desired, pull meat from bones and add back to sauce. Season to taste with salt and black pepper, and garnish with chopped parsley right before serving.