Poulet Basquaise, a specialty of the Basque region, is very simple to make and perfect for a satisfying midweek meal. The main ingredients are chicken, tomatoes, peppers, onions and garlic, but as with most ‘traditional’ recipes, everyone has their own variation. Some people like the addition of Bayonne ham, others prefer more heat, and some claim that only fresh tomatoes will do.
I think one of the key steps is to make the sauce first, let it cook in a covered pan, and then add in the browned chicken. If you can get your hands on ground piment d’ Espelette, you might want to add that in. It gives the dish a touch of mild heat and a deliciously smokey flavor. In my dish, I use chicken quarters, but you can also use legs or even a whole chicken. Just ask your butcher to cut it into eight pieces for you as it makes life a whole lot easier.
- 4 tbsp mild olive oil
- 2 onions, finely chopped
- 2 cloves of garlic, finely chopped
- 100 g dry-cured ham (Bayonne or Serrano)
- 2 red peppers, sliced
- 1 green pepper, sliced
- 4 ripe tomatoes, chopped
- 1 ½ tsp ground piment d’Espelette (or to taste)
- pinch of sugar
- 100ml dry white wine
- salt (preferably fleur de sel) and freshly-cracked pepper
- four chicken quarters, or eight legs, or one whole chopped chicken
- chopped flat leaf parsley
Heat the olive oil in a large casserole. Add the onion and garlic and gently sauté for about three minutes. Add the lardons and continue to cook for a few more minutes. Add the rest of the ingredients (except the chicken). Bring to the boil, reduce the heat, cover and allow to cook for 40 minutes. Brown the chicken pieces ten minutes before the end of the sauce’s cooking time. Add the chicken to the sauce and allow to cook for a further 35 minutes. Taste and adjust the seasoning if necessary. Serve with potatoes or rice and a scattering of fresh chopped parsley.