Now, this dish is a regional favourite of mine and pretty popular in our house. I am always surprised at how tasty it is given the few basic ingredients it is made from.
In keeping true to the Basque tradition I have made this tonight using Piment d’Espelette. This is a hot chilli pepper grown only in 10 small villages in the Basque region of France. It is a specialty ingredient, and its restricted growing area has earned it AOC protection.
The Basque region is the southern area of France that boarders with Spain along the Pyrenees mountain range and the Bay of Biscay. The cooking style here is heavily influenced by Spanish cuisine and this simple chicken casserole is no exception, with its subtle heat from the Piment d’Espelette. Overall, food in the Basque region is a bit spicier than that found in the rest of France, and contributes its own unique soul to the gastronomic tapestry that is France.
The one thing that still holds true in the Basque region is a focus on fresh, quality ingredients. treated simply and cooked with respect. Stick to this and the recipe tonight will deliver flavour in spades. I hope you enjoy it!
Recipe adapted from Anthony Bourdain.
- 1 whole chicken cut into 8 pieces (find out how to do it here)
- Pinch of Piment d’Espelètte (can substitute with Paprika or Cayenne Pepper)
- 2 tbsp olive oil
- 1 tbsp butter
- 2 red capsicums (peppers) – julienned
- 2 green capsicums (peppers) – julienned
- 1 onion, thinly sliced
- 400g can diced tomatoes
- 1/2 cup white wine
- 1/2 cup water
- 1/2 chicken stock cube
- 3 sprigs of flat parsley, finely chopped
- Rice to serve
Note: If you are in Melbourne Piment d’Espelette is available at the Essential Ingredient. They also sell it online.
How to do it
Firstly Julienne your capsicums and finely slice the onion. Mine aren’t too finely done as I was in an ‘after work hurry’ but it is a rustic dish after all!
Season your chicken pieces with the salt and pepper and rub the skin with the Piment d’Espelette. The recipe calls for a pinch, but I recommend using to taste – just go carefully if you are using the cayenne pepper instead!
Heat the oil in the base of a heavy based pan (I love using my tagine for this dish). When the oil is hot, add the butter and wait for it to foam and the bubbles subside before adding the chicken pieces, skin side down, to brown. When nice and brown remove the chicken from the pan (do not turn over – just brown the skin side) and reserve on a plate until needed.
Tip your capsicums and onion into the pan and saute over a medium to high heat until they being to soften (about 10 minutes) then add your tomatoes and turn the head down to medium, stirring occasionally. When the liquid has reduced by half, add in the white wine and again heat to reduce the liquid by half and then add in the extra water and the stock cube.
Add the chicken pieces back to the pan so they are nestled amongst the sauce, throw in the chopped parsley and cover with a lid. Turning the heat down to medium low, simmer the chicken gently for about 25 minutes and put on your rice to cook.
Gently heat the cod in the water as it warms towards a simmer. This should take about 8-10 minutes. Be careful not to let the cod boil at any stage!
While the cod is poaching, gently warm (do not boil) the milk and the olive oil in two separate saucepans and reserve until needed.
When the cod is poached, gently remove it from the pan and lay it on a board or bench. Quickly use the side of a fork to scrape the skin off the fish and use your fingertips to locate any left over bones (the cooked flesh will retract making this quite easy). Cod is quite bony and the big bones are pretty easy to find, if slightly annoying to remove, but hey we’re cooking fish.
Roughly flake the cod flesh with your fingertips and return it to the stove top over a very low heat (just to stop the flesh becoming rubbery and congealing as it cools). Add in a tablespoon of warmed oil and start stirring, mashing the cod against the sides of the saucepan as you go. Keep stirring, do not stop as you add a tablespoon of warmed milk, stirring until absorbed.
Keep alternating oil and milk and stirring until all incorporated and you cod mixture is (relatively) smooth. Note: You can do this in a food processor if you want to. Process the flaked fish and milk in a food processor until well combined. And then, with motor running, slowly add olive oil in a steady stream and process until well combined and smooth.
Whichever way you choose to make the cod emulsion, once it’s done you then need to season with salt and pepper and transfer to a serving bowl. Cover with breadcrumbs and bake in the oven at 180 degrees celsius for 6-8 minutes or until the crumbs are golden.
Garnish with a few olives and serve with aioli and crusty bread rubbed with garlic and fried in a little butter.