Monday, August 08, 2011

Semana Española: Pollo Con Aceitunas!

For the last couple of weeks , I have been glued to BBC2 on Thursday evenings. The reason? Rick Stein's amazing culinary journey through Spain! Watching Rick on his travels has always been a pleasure. Wherever he goes, he makes sure the viewer is there with him, cooking and eating with the locals. He really does a great job at letting us taste the places he visits and this make his shows very inspirational.
In his Spanish series, his enthusiasm and passion for food were once again evident. After every episode, I had the urge to run into the kitchen and cook with pimentón, fry some chorizos until they released their spicy, orange oils or pour myself a glass of Jerez! If it wasn't for the fact that the shows finished around 10 PM, I probably would have.
Inspired by Rick and craving the taste of my ancestors, I decided to make this past weekend a Spanish one. It started with a bottle of Jerez and ended with a satisfying meal of albóndigas. We had tapas: paper-thin slices of sweet, perfectly marbled Jamón Ibérico, garlicky olives and pan al ajo. We drank Rioja and for two days, my house had the scent of Spain. 
Initially, I had intended on buying the book that went with the series, but my local bookstore did not carry it yet and because we are leaving for France this week, ordering wasn't an option. I had no choice but to be patient and leaf through other books on Spanish cuisine. I was lucky enough to find a gorgeous book inspired by the markets of Spain: The Real Taste of Spain. The beautiful photography, combined with easy, straightforward recipes made me love the book from the moment I picked it up. That and the colorful inside cover composed of pictures of just about every tin of pimentón imaginable!
I have cooked two recipes from the book so far and thought I would like to share my versions with you in today and tomorrow's post. I may just give a few more recipes a whirl by the end of the week, so if you like a little sabor Español, make sure you stay tuned for what may turn out to be a semana Española (Spanish week)!  
Again, these recipes are pretty much original, with the exception of a few alterations made to our tastes in my kitchen. For the actual recipes, check out the book. I'm sure you'll love it just as much as I did.
And for those of you living in the Netherlands who really want a taste of Spain, I highly recommend a visit to my favorite Spanish shop, Hollandaluz- the place for wonderful Spanish hams, oils, wines, spices, cheese and even Spanish pottery!

Today's recipe is one we really enjoyed for dinner on Saturday- pollo con aceitunas (chicken with olives). You'll notice that the recipe calls for authentic Spanish ingredients such as paprika powder, dry sherry, plump black olives and aromatic lemons. Your best bet is to serve the chicken with lots of bread. Even the pan juices are a fragrant example of the elaborately balanced flavors of the authentic Spanish kitchen. Buen provecho and muchas gracias to Rick Stein for the Spanish inspiration!
Pollo Con Aceitunas
Serves 4

4 chicken quarters (preferably free range/organic)
sea salt and plenty of freshly-ground peppercorns
3 tbsps mild olive oil
a few sprigs of the following herbs: rosemary, thyme and mint
1 1/2  tsp of smoked paprika powder
2 onions, halved and finely sliced
6 cloves of garlic, bruised and left whole
1 red chili pepper, deseeded and finely chopped
100 ml dry sherry
100 gr fat, juicy black olives
1 lemon, halved and each half quartered

Season the chicken with salt and pepper. Heat the oil in a large, heavy-bottomed frying pan and fry the chicken until it browns on all sides and the skin crisps beautifully. This will take about 5-7 minutes. Remove the chicken from the pan and set aside. Reduce the heat and add the onions to the pan. Gently sauté for a minute or two. Add the garlic and the chili pepper and do the same, making sure that the garlic does not burn. Place the chicken back in the pan, sprinkle with the smoked paprika powder, add the chopped herbs and pour in the sherry. Cover and cook on a low-medium heat for about 45 minutes. Check every now and then to see if the dish is too dry. If so, add a little more sherry. Add the olives, squeeze in the lemon parts, add them in and let the dish cook for a further five minutes. As I mentioned, I served the chicken with bread (how else would we clean the pan?), but mashed potatoes might also go wonderfully with this dish. 

Care for a glass of vino? How about a dry, fruity rosé? We really enjoyed the palate-cleansing, well-balanced flavor and ripe tannins of the Parador 2010 Rosado from Navarra. This fruity wine is made from a selection of Garnacha Tinta grapes. It has a hint of red berries, beautiful floral notes and a fresh, long finish.



The Fajdich Times said...

Thanks for stopping by. I look forward to many more visits:)

Paola said...

Thanks as well. See you soon! :)

Erin of said...

Thank you so much for linking up and partying at Home Savvy A to Z this week, Paola!

Paola said...

It was my pleasure, Erin! See you in a few weeks! I'm off to France this Saturday! :)