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Basque-style chicken

A simple, hearty, and comforting chicken dish flavoured with tomatoes, peppers, and Bayonne ham, this dish is a one-pan meal that is perfect for a family dinner and yet special enough to prepare for company. Using bone-in skin-on chicken thighs means that the meat stays tender and juicy and is also wallet-friendly. Bayonne ham is the French version of prosciutto and can easily be substituted, just try to get it sliced a little thicker than you typically would. The traditional way to serve “Poulet Basquaise” is with saffron rice – the slightly floral flavour and pretty yellow hue pair beautifully with this savoury chicken stew. 

SERVES
4
 TO
6

Ingredients

  • 6 chicken thighs, bone-in and skin-on
  • 1 1/2 teaspoons sea salt
  • 1 teaspoon paprika
  • 1 tablespoon extra virgin olive oil
  • 4 slices Bayonne ham (sliced a little thicker than sandwich ham), cut into strips
  • 1 onion, sliced
  • 4 cloves garlic, peeled and whacked
  • 1 yellow bell pepper, julienned
  • 1/2 cup roasted red peppers, sliced into strips
  • 2 tablespoons tomato paste
  • 1 cup white wine, something dry that you enjoy drinking
  • 1/2 cup plum tomatoes, canned, crushed with your hands (ideally San Marzano tomatoes)
  • 5 stems fresh thyme, whole sprigs
  • 1 bay leaf, fresh or dried

Directions

  1. Preheat oven to 350°F.
  2. Season chicken thighs on all sides with sea salt and paprika. Set aside.
  3. Heat a large, higher-sided saucepan over medium heat. Once heated, add the olive oil and sliced ham. Sauté for about five minutes until slightly crisp, then remove the ham to a dish.
  4. Leave about one tablespoon of rendered oil behind in the saucepan, and discard any beyond that amount. Note: ideally, use a saucepan that is oven-safe in order to save dishes; otherwise, you’ll have to transfer the chicken and sauce to a casserole dish for baking later on in the recipe.
  5. Increase the heat to medium-high and arrange the chicken thighs in the saucepan skin side down. Brown five to six minutes on the skin side, then flip to brown the flesh side for another five minutes. Keep in mind that the purpose of this step is not to cook the chicken through, but rather to crisp the skin and develop some caramelization (i.e., flavour!). It will finish cooking in the yummy sauce you’re about to create. Remove the browned chicken to a plate, for now, skin side up so that it stays crisp.
  6. Add the onion to the saucepan, still working on medium-high heat. Cook, stirring often about one to two minutes until onions are soft and translucent. Then add the yellow and roasted red peppers, and the garlic. Cook, stirring often for about two minutes. Feel free to add a little more olive oil to the pan if needed.
  7. Add the tomato paste and cook for about one minute while stirring. Add the white wine and stir to lift and incorporate any caramelized bits on the bottom of the pan.
  8. Add the crushed plum tomatoes, thyme sprigs, and bay leaf to the pan. Stir to incorporate. Note: you want to have at least an inch of liquid in the pan before the next step, so if needed add a splash of water.
  9. Increase the heat to high to bring the mixture to a boil. Once boiling, reduce heat to a simmer and arrange the chicken pieces in the sauce in a single layer, skin side up. Be sure to also add any juices from the chicken, and half of the reserved crispy ham too.
  10. Transfer oven-safe saucepan to the preheated oven and bake for 25-30 minutes until chicken is cooked through. Otherwise, transfer chicken and sauce to a casserole dish before baking.
  11. Serve this Basque-style chicken hot with saffron rice, crusty bread, or any way you like it.
  12. Be sure to remove the bay leaf and thyme stems before serving, and garnish with the reserved crispy ham. Enjoy!


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