Wednesday, October 13, 2010

Basque Chicken

I lived in Nevada for a long time, home to many people of Basque heritage. Basques originated from an area between France and Spain, so the cooking is heavily influenced by Mediterranean cuisine. This chicken dish has lots of vegetables, many of them prominent in Mediterranean meals. It's similar to a stew, but I've thickened it just a bit. Traditionally this dish is served with rice, but I like it just the way it is.


4 skinless pieces of chicken
1 tsp olive oil
1 cup chopped onion
1 Tbs dried basil
1 tsp olive oil
1 tsp flour
1 tsp minced garlic
1 green pepper, seeded and chopped
1 red pepper, seeded and chopped
4 mushrooms, sliced
1 tomato, quartered
1/2 cup Canadian bacon, cubed
1/2 cup white wine or chicken broth
salt and pepper to taste


Cut chicken into bite size pieces. Heat olive oil in a cast iron pot over medium high heat. Add chicken and brown on all sides. Add onion and basil, then reduce heat to medium, and continue cooking for about 5 minutes, until the chicken is nearly cooked and the onion is translucent. Remove the chicken and onion mixture from the pot. Add the second teaspoon of olive oil. Add the flour and stir until combined. Add the white wine or broth, then add the garlic, peppers, mushrooms, tomato and Canadian bacon. Cook over medium heat until the mushrooms begin to give up their liquid, about 5 to 10 minutes. Add the chicken and onions back and heat until done. If the mixture is too thick, add a little chicken stock.

Stealthy Cooking Tip: The original Basque style chicken dishes I've tasted included piece of chicken with skin on. The dish would be cooked for 30 to 45 minutes. Using skinless chicken is a healthier alternative, but  skinless chicken cooks very quickly. Cooking it too long in a liquid causes all the juices to leave the chicken, resulting in rubbery tasting chicken. Removing quickly cooked chicken, then adding it back to the dish right before serving allows the flavors of the vegetables to meld, while retaining tender and tasty chicken pieces.

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