Friday 11 April 2008

My turn

Well I had to, didn't I? After all that delicious food in Spain, I had to have a crack at making it myself - partly for my own satisfaction and partly so my husband could try some of it.

It wasn't hard to decide what to make. Spinach and chickpeas are 2 of his favourite things, so the espinacas con garbanzos was a certainty. I made it sort of like this version - although it will be a cold day in hell before I weigh 1g of cumin or 3g of salt - adding a good bit of paprika and turmeric. It was OK. Needed a higher proportion of spinach to the beans, and I think it would have been better cooked in a large quantity for a long time, and then reheated later. That may sound a bit disgusting, but the way spinach melts to a puree and gradually turns a burnished bronze colour is one of my favourite things in dishes like palak paneer.

I'd been so won over by the garlicky dishes I'd tried - the pork and the rabbit cooked with many whole cloves - that I thought I would give that a try with joints of chicken. And then discovered of course that someone else got there first and called it pollo al ajillo. I read a bunch of recipes and then went slightly in my own direction. But in my opinion it maintained the spirit of the originals!

Pollo al Ajillo (the North London way)

Sprinkle a flat plate with 1tsp salt, put chicken thighs on the salt, sprinkle with another 1tsp salt and leave for about 10 minutes while you get everything else ready.

Pour a good slug of olive oil into a cold cast iron dish (starting from cold because I want the maximum garlickyness to infuse into the oil before it starts to singe).

Peel a head of garlic and chuck the cloves into the cold oil (both times I had this in Spain the skins were left on the garlic, so you could do that, but I don't like picking the papery bits out of my mouth). Put the pan of garlic and oil onto a low heat and allow to slowly come up to temperature. When the garlic starts to sizzle, wipe the salt and released juices off the chicken thighs with a paper towel and place skin side down in the oil. Brown thoroughly (and I mean brown - until it is becoming crisp, not just until it goes opaque), turning the garlic cloves over from time to time.

Add 2 bayleaves, lightly crushed, and a pinch of saffron threads. Pour on about a cup of dry sherry (I used manzanilla). Cover and place in a preheated oven at about 180C for about half an hour.

This made much more delicious sauce than we needed to eat with the chicken (there are days when I wish we ate more starches), so I have it stashed away in the freezer for the next time I make a risotto. It will be an excellent addition!


HH said...

Sounds Lovely! I am always looking for new ways to do chicken as my sister won't eat other meat. Garlicky and lovely! Sounds perfect, and the sauce in Risotto! Yum! Thanks!

mscrankypants said...

Chickpeas and spinach are indeed a glorious partnership *drools*.

Bettina Douglas said...

I've decided while briefly cooked vegetables have their place, slow cooked spinach / silver beet and green beans are lovely. I think it is the olive oil etc that Mediterranean cooks use. Rather than just salted water like the "English" veges of old.

Alicia Foodycat said...

I agree - those Lebanese beans cooked slowly with onions and tomato in olive oil are just gorgeous.


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