Monday, August 24, 2015

A Basque flavour 1: Poulet Basquaise

We spent quite a while in the Pays Basque these holidays, revisiting the ancestral home of my mother's family and reconnecting with many of my aunts, uncles and cousins there. And eating lovely Basque food of course!
The cornerstones of savoury Basque cuisine are red and green capsicums/bell peppers, as well as the long 'sweet peppers'; tomatoes; onions and garlic; and of course the lovely chilli powder known as 'piment d'Espelette', which is made from the long peppers grown there and which has a lovely sweet yet spicy flavour--something in between paprika and hot chilli. Added to dishes during cooking, it really gives a great spicy tingle; sprinkled on afterwards, you get the fruity flavour but it's less 'hot'. Whatever, it's used on everything there--eggs, meat, fish, even occasionally sweets! You can order it in Australia, here and here for instance, but if you can't find it, you can try substituting a hot paprika(not quite as good, as paprika is ground much finer than piment d'Espelette--the latter is quite coarse, which gives it more flavour. )
I'm posting on this blog a couple of recipes that are absolute Basque classics and quite easy to make. This one is for Poulet basquaise , or Basque-style chicken, and in the next one I will republish David's great recipe for a simple Gateau Basque, THE Basque cake par excellence!

Poulet basquaise

Ingredients: (for 4 people)
1 kg chicken pieces, diced--or a whole chicken, cut into pieces
4 good truss tomatoes(or use a can of tomatoes)
1 large onion
2 capsicums--1 green, 1 red
2 cloves garlic
1 bay leaf, pinch thyme, parsley
piment d' Espelette powder --or if you don't have any, a hot paprika powder can substitute
salt and pepper to taste
olive oil for frying

Chop the onion and fry it and the crushed garlic in the olive oil. Separately, saute the chicken pieces in some more olive oil, and salt and pepper to taste(don't add too much pepper, as the piment/paprika powder will be added later) . 
Add the chopped capsicums to the onion and garlic mix, sit well, then add the herbs, and stir a little more. Now add the tomatoes, and cook till the sauce is nice and thick.
Add the sauce to the cooked chicken pieces, sprinkle in some paprika/piment powder, and simmer for about half an hour, till the chicken is completely cooked through. If the saice starts sticking, add a little water, just enough to deglaze the bottom.
Serve with extra chopped parsley and paprika/piment powder on top. Goes well with rice.

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