Pollo al Ajillo (Spanish Garlic Chicken) Recipe

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SHerry and garlic are the smells of Spain, of course, but not just because you smell them when you’re there. The Sherry smells of warmth and complexity – it’s not a one-note ingredient – which confirms how I felt about Spain as a country. If it’s not dry, it can be quite buttery with hints of caramel, especially once you’ve reduced it. Here, the sherry vinegar reduces the sweetness while adding more depth and “oakiness.”

Makes a great quick dinner. Serve with roasted potatoes in olive oil (cooked with rosemary or thyme) or good bread and a green salad. I know it sounds painful to keep the thighs on the bone – and in small pieces – but that’s what makes this dish so good.

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Preparation time: 15 minutes | Cooking time: 30 minutes

SERVED

Four

INGREDIENTS

  • 8 to 12 chicken thighs, bone-in, skinless
  • 1 head of garlic, plus 4 finely chopped cloves
  • Olive oil, for cooking
  • 2 teaspoons of sherry vinegar
  • 125 ml of sherry (upstreamillado or oloroso, no sherry cream)
  • A handful of finely chopped parsley leaves, for serving

METHOD

  1. Using a meat grinder or a sharp knife, cut the thighs into 2-inch pieces, leaving the bone. Check that there are no small bone chips where you made the cuts. Sprinkle with salt and let stand 10 minutes.
  2. Separate the garlic cloves from the head, but do not peel them. Press down hard on each one with the side of a large knife and the heel of your hand to crush them a bit and break the skin.
  3. Heat about 2 cm of olive oil in a large skillet until heated through. Add the chicken and whole garlic cloves and cook over high heat – so that they have a good color – for 4 minutes. Keep the chicken and garlic moving all the time.
  4. Lower the heat a little and cook for another 10 minutes or so, turning the chicken occasionally.
  5. Drain everything in a large sieve to remove all but ½ tablespoon of oil (do not wash the pan). Add the chopped garlic to the pan and cook gently for a minute (you don’t want the garlic to burn), then add the vinegar and sherry. Bring to a boil by scraping the bottom of the pan with a wooden spoon, lower the heat and return the chicken. Season.
  6. Heat the chicken and let the sherry reduce so that it covers the meat. Sprinkle with parsley and serve.
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