Tuesday, October 29, 2013

Pollo Guisado with Chorizo, Peppers & Potatoes

Every culture has it's favourite chicken recipes, and this Spanish-inspired Dominican Pollo Guisado, is festive, fabulous and absolutely delicious. Given the colonial history of the Dominican Republic, with its European, African, and Taíno Indian influences, this former Spanish colony has adopted many Castilian recipes and reinvented them as their own, but with a uniquely Dominican twist like this Pollo Guisado with Chorizo, Peppers and Potatoes.

Dominican cooking varies region to region, with most dishes in the country's Creole menu based on rice, meat, beans and vegetables, and to a smaller degree, fish and seafood. Meat dishes tend to be very well cooked or even stewed, a tradition stemming from the lack of refrigeration on the island. Dominican cuisine, compared to other parts of the West Indies, includes milder spicing and use of native ingredients such as onions, garlic, cilantro, cilantro ancho (culantro), ají cubanela (cubanelle pepper), and oregano, that when mixed together, take on their own unique personality, culminating in a uniquely rich, festive and flavourful cuisine.

Braised Spanish Chicken with Chorizo, Peppers & Potatoes
Serves 4

1 medium yellow onion, cut into 8 wedges
1 medium red onion, cut into 8 wedges
1 lb new potatoes, quartered
8 whole garlic cloves, peeled and smashed
8 plum tomatoes, quartered
8 oz chorizo Spanish sausage
8 boneless, skinless chicken thighs
1/2 tsp sweet smoked paprika
1/2 tsp fresh or dried oregano
1 tbsp orange zest
1/4 cup sliced or halved pitted green olives
1 green pepper, seeded and julienned
1 red pepper, seeded and julienned
1 tsp Maldon sea salt
freshly ground black pepper
1/2 cup chopped cilantro, for garnish - optional

Preheat oven to 400°F. Place the onions, new potatoes, garlic and tomatoes into a large roasting pan and season with salt and freshly ground black pepper. Give the mixture a gentle toss and roast for 20 minutes.

While the vegetables are roasting, skin the chorizo and cut into thin slices, about 1/8-inch thick. Place the chicken thighs on a cutting service and lightly score the tops with a sharp knife 2 or 3 times. Season with black pepper. Mix the paprika, oregano and orange zest in a small bowl and set aside.

Remove the roasting pan from the oven, sprinkle the chorizo over the vegetables and give the mixture a good stir. Place the chicken thighs on top of the vegetables and sprinkle with the olives and paprika mixture. Season with a little salt and return to the oven for another 20 minutes.

Remove the pan from the oven, and using an oven mitt, tilt the pan so all the juices run to one end, then spoon the juices over the chicken. Then arrange the sliced peppers around the chicken and vegetables, turn the oven up to 425°F and bung the pan back into the oven for another 20 minutes, or until the peppers are just softened and the chicken is crisp and golden brown.

To serve, arrange the chicken, peppers, chorizo and potatoes on a large platter, drizzle with the pan juices and garnish with a flurry of chopped cilantro if you wish. This dish is wonderful served with Saffron Rice or a warm baguette to sop up all of the juices.

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