Monday, 4 June 2012


This dish comes from the latest addition to my cookery book collection, The Food of Spain by Claudia Roden, an old-fashioned 'classic' recipe book full of interesting Spanish regional dishes, long on words, and short on pictures. I am exploring it slowly, and will blog recipes as and when I try them.

I invited friends for supper on Saturday, and, given the recent hot spell here in the UK, I wanted to cook something that was summery and light. One of my favourite summer chicken dishes is also Spanish - Pollo al ajillo, chicken pieces cooked with whole garlic cloves in a white wine sauce, but I'd made this the week before, so I thought I'd try something else.

This simple recipe uses a few key ingredients to create a delicious and colourful dish. Brought to the table in the pan in which it was cooked, it looks rustic, but if you do as I do, and serve it in the kitchen, it is elegant and pretty. Because the sauce contains both peas and potatoes, you need only add a green salad and some hunks of good bread (I made spelt flour bread) to complete the meal. The cider gives the sauce a delicate sweetness, which complements the peas and potatoes perfectly. (Peas are very popular in my house - my son says we should "give peas a chance"!)

Serves 6
6 chicken thighs, skin on
3 tbsp good olive oil
1 medium onion, peeled and finely chopped
3 cloves of garlic, peeled and chopped
130g pancetta or Serrano ham, cut into strips
500ml strong cider
500g peas, fresh or frozen
500g waxy new potatoes, cooked until they are al dente
Salt & pepper to taste

Heat the oil in a large, deep pan or Le Creueset type casserole. Add the onion and fry until soft. Then add the garlic and pancetta. Now add the chicken pieces. When they have browned slightly, pour over the cider and check the seasoning. Turn up the heat to a gentle simmer and cook for about 20 mins, or until the chicken is cooked through. You can make the dish to this point in advance, and add the peas and potatoes just before serving.

About 10 mins before you are ready to serve the dish, add the parboiled potatoes. At around 5 mins before serving, add the peas.

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