Recipe: Basque Chicken
This recipe is a spice merchant's take on a French classic.
- 2 Tbsp. olive oil
- 5 bone-in, skin-on chicken thighs
- 1 medium red onion, halved and sliced thin
- 6 cloves garlic, chopped small
- 1/2 cup chicken broth
- 1/2 cup medium sherry
- 1/2 cup tomato sauce
- 2 large tomatoes, chopped into large chunks
- 3 carrots, cut into small sticks, then cut on a bias
- 1 1/2 cups green beans (or haricot vert), cut on a bias
- 3 bell peppers (1 red,1 yellow, 1 orange), roasted and sliced*
- 1 1/2 tsp. Piment dEspelette paprika, plus more for garnish
- 1 1/2 tsp. Mediterranean thyme, chopped
- 1 tsp. salt, plus more to taste
- 1 tsp. ground black pepper, plus more to taste
- 4 Tbsp. butter, chilled and divided
- 1/2 cup cubed jambon (or country ham)
- 1 cup dried French green lentils
- Italian black truffle sea salt (optional for garnish)*
It's helpful to have all the ingredients prepped, measured out, and ready to go next to the stovetop when you start this recipe.
*To roast bell peppers: Char over an open flame or under the broiler. Transfer to a bowl and cover with plastic to steam. Once cool, charred skin should peel right off.
*From the recipe author: "The truffle salt really brings the sauce together to finish off this dish. The earthy flavors, combine well with the southern country feel, which set off the delicate aroma of Piment d'Espelette."
Heat olive oil over medium-high heat in a Dutch oven or similar. Add chicken and sear, skin side down, for 3 min.; turn and cook an additional 2 min. on opposite side. Remove chicken from pan and set aside. Add onions and garlic and saute until tender (almost browned) about 4 to 5 min. Remove onions and garlic from pan and set aside. Add chicken broth, sherry, and tomato sauce to pan. Bring to a boil and scrape up any browned bits off the bottom of the pan. Add tomatoes, carrots, green beans, and roasted peppers. Stir to incorporate. Add Piment d'Espelette, thyme, 1 tsp. salt, and 1 tsp. pepper. Add seared chicken and sauteed onions and garlic back to pan. Cover and simmer over low heat for 25 to 30 min.
Meanwhile, in a separate pot, bring 4 cups water to a boil. Add lentils and season with salt. Cover and simmer over low heat for 18 to 20 min. or until lentils are tender. Drain lentils, return to pot, and stir in 1 Tbsp. butter. Cover to keep warm.
Meanwhile, in a cast iron skillet, brown 1 Tbsp. butter then add cubed ham. Sear for 2 min. then stir to brown ham on all sides, 6 to 7 min. total.
With 5 min. remaining on Dutch oven timer, remove chicken, checking temperature to make sure it registers at least 170 degrees. Return lid to finish cooking vegetables for 5 min. Remove vegetables from pot with a slotted spoon so broth remains. Add browned ham cubes to broth and simmer over medium-high heat so mixture reduces to make a sauce. You can add remaining 2 Tbsp. of chilled butter to broth to silken the sauce.
To plate the dish: Place 1/3 cup lentils in the center of a plate. Add a healthy portion of vegetables (about 1 cup) off to the side of the lentils. Place 1 chicken thigh on top of both lentils and vegetables. Then ladle 1/4 cup of sauce, with ham, over the top of the chicken. Garnish with Piment d'Espelette and truffle salt. Enjoy with a great syrah, or pinot noir.