Basque Style Chicken

According to the groundhog we’ve got 6 more weeks of winter, so even though there’s no snow here in Chicago and it’s been in the 40s, we’re still in stewing and braising season.  And I’ll be very honest here, I love making this chicken recipe regardless of the season.  It’s easy and you can make a good quantity so you’ll have leftovers.  There are so many different ways to make “Basque” chicken (just google it!  no wait, trust me on that, keep reading) but from what I’ve researched it seems all of them include peppers, tomatoes, and Piment d’Espelette.  Oh and chicken of course. 

I like using whole chicken legs, they’re great in simple stovetop braises such as this since they stay tender and juicy.  I saw some recipes using chicken breasts and cannot understand why anyone would want to braise them.  Makes no sense to me.  I also don’t have any Piment d’Espelette in the cupboard so I substitute Spanish paprika (which we brought back from Barcelona) and add a pinch of cayenne pepper to give it some kick.  Love using Spanish paprika (Pimentón Dulce).  It has a really smoky flavor you don’t get from other paprika and adds a great layer of flavor to whatever you add it to.

Another addition I’ll make to my Basque style chicken is citrus.  Like any home cook I like to incorporate what’s in season and right now we’re getting lots of navel oranges, honeybells, tangerines, etc., in the stores.  Use them!  Let the sauce simmer down to thicken and serve this dish with some cous-cous, rice, or polenta for a hearty mid-winter chicken dinner.

Basque Style Chicken (serves 6)

  • 6 whole chicken legs (with thighs)
  • 2 Tbs butter
  • 2 Tbs olive oil
  • 2 sweet red peppers, julienned (strips)
  • 1 green bell pepper, julienned
  • 2 small/medium onions, sliced
  • 2-3 cloves garlic, minced
  • 1 C white wine
  • 28 oz can of plum tomatoes
  • ½-1 tsp Spanish paprika (plus some for seasoning)
  • Pinch of cayenne (or two)
  • Juice and zest from 1 orange
  • Parsley
  • Salt to taste

Season the chicken legs with salt and some paprika.  In a large heavy bottomed pot over medium/medium-high heat, add the oil and butter.  In batches of 2, brown the legs skin side down.  When browned, remove and set aside.  Repeat for all six legs.

When finished browning the legs add the sliced peppers, onion, and garlic and cook for 10 minutes, stirring occasionally.

Add the wine (scrape up anything that stuck to the bottom of the pot), tomatoes, paprika, cayenne, and orange juice.  Bring to boil and add the chicken legs back into the pot making sure they are covered with the liquid.  (Be sure to add any juices that have collected on the plate where they’ve been resting.)  If you need to, add some water so they’re covered.  Place cover loosely on pot and allow to simmer for 35-40 mins.

When chicken is cooked remove from pot and set aside.  Add orange zest to sauce, bring to boil and reduce by half.

Arrange legs on a platter and pour sauce over them, add some chopped parsley and serve.


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