Basque Country, which straddles a large area in the western Pyrenees Mountain currently inside the borders of Spain and France, is one of the most truly enchanting places I have ever visited. Believed to be one of the oldest peoples in Europe, the Basque people are proud, most still speak their original language, and happily embrace their culture so profoundly. And their culture is truly remarkable.
The Basque people are passionate, lively, and much like me, love wonderful food and drink. It is the center of their lives. At some point, I read that there is a higher concentration of Michelin star restaurants within the Basque Country than anywhere else on earth.
While I was in the Basque Country a few years back, I enjoyed some of the most ridiculously amazing meals of my life – from very high-end, multi-course meals to pintxos in traditional bars to street food.
One of the most memorable meals I enjoyed while I was in Basque Country was the ubiquitous, traditional dish called Poulet Basquaise, which I had at a restaurant on the French side of the region. This meal, while very simple and straightforward, is so homey, flavorful and just made me feel like my Basque granny cooked it just for me. This embodiment of comfort food is delicious served with rice, noodles, potatoes, or even all by itself.
1 whole organic chicken, cut into pieces
2 Tbsp. olive oil
2 yellow onions, sliced
1 green bell pepper, sliced
1 red bell pepper, sliced
¾ c. diced ham
2 cloves of garlic
2 14 oz. cans of diced tomatoes
½ c. red wine
1 tsp. Hungarian paprika
2 tsp. cayenne pepper
2 bay leaves
Salt and pepper
Heat 1 Tbsp. of the olive oil in a large skillet over medium high heat. Season the chicken with salt and cayenne pepper. Cook the chicken in the skillet until it is browned on one side, flip it, and brown the other side. This will take 10-12 minutes. Set the chicken aside on a plate, scrape the oil and browned bits of chicken off of the skillet and on top of the chicken.
Add 1 Tbsp. olive oil to the same skillet and heat over medium high heat. Add the ham, onions and peppers, and cook until the veggies are soft, or about 5-6 minutes. Add the garlic and cook for one more minute. Place the chicken and its juices back into the skillet. Add the tomatoes, wine, bay leaves, and paprika.
Cook uncovered on medium low for about 15 minutes, or until the sauce liquid has reduced by about half. Turn the heat to low, cover and cook for 40 more minutes. Season with salt and serve.