With the first bite of this hearty Spanish chicken dish, you’ll be in heaven. With the second you will think that it has been cooking away for hours. I’ll let you in on a little secret – not necessarily. There are a couple of ways to make this winter warmer. If you are pressed for time then use boneless chicken thighs. If time is your friend, then go for bone in thighs, sometimes called chicken chops, or my favourite cut that Cesters at Prahran Market calls ‘Casserole Pieces’. These are halved chicken drumsticks with the end of the bone cut off, also known in some parts as “Lovely Legs” The method is exactly the same no matter what you use – only the cooking time changes. I have found that it freezes well and is even better the day after you make it.
4 boneless chicken thighs cut into thirds or 1 kg of chicken pieces on the bone
50gm jamon (Spanish ham) or prosciutto
100 gm jarred roasted red peppers
16 pitted green olives ( I use Always Fresh Anchovy Stuffed Olives)
1 small brown onion
1 400gm tin diced tomatoes
1 400gm tin chickpeas
1 clove garlic
2 fresh bay leaves
3 big sprigs flat leaf parsley
1 lemon, zest and juice
1/2 tsp smoked paprika
1/4 tsp cayenne pepper
75ml white wine
freshly ground black pepper
Season the chicken pieces and brown thoroughly in a wide, heavy based pan over a high heat. This should take about 10 minutes, but you don’t have to stand around waiting.
Whilst the chicken is doing its thing, crush the garlic, finely dice the onion and slice the jamon into 1cm strips. Add all of these to the pan along with the bay leaves and spices. Fairly soon the scent of spices will be wafting through the air telling you it’s time to add the zest and juice from the lemon. Deglaze the pan with the wine, making sure you scrape up any of the tasty bits stuck on the bottom. Add the drained chickpeas and tomatoes and reduce the heat to medium low. Stir though so that everything is well combined. Cover and leave to simmer until chicken is cooked through. For the boneless thighs this will take another 15 minutes or so. For bone-in chicken allow another 30. Add the olives for the final five minutes.
Always check your chicken before serving. Times will vary depending on the size of the pieces you are using and the heat of the pan.
Garnish with chopped parsley and serve with fresh sourdough bread.