Thursday, 26 March 2015

Pollo al Chilindron - (Spanish) Chicken with Peppers and Tomatoes

Simple and tasty at its best, Spanish-style...

I've blogged this recipe, which I've had in my 5:2 group for a while, because it is how I learnt the real name of a 'Half Man, Half Goat'... make of that what you will!!! This is a classic Spanish dish, originating from Aragón. You can choose whether you use all red bell peppers (which are sweeter, and some say is the most traditional), or a mixture of red and green, or even all green for a slightly more peppery flavour. Choose chicken thighs for moist and succulent tasty meat, or chicken breast for a leaner, slightly quicker option.

Chilindron - the pepper and tomato sauce - is simple and yet soooo good - great hot or cold, and delicious with meat, chicken or fish - and if you're a vegetarian, you could just make the sauce and crack some eggs into it to poach shakshouka style for a delicious brunch, and mop up with crusty bread.

Serves four as a main meal, 275 calories per serving (if using chicken breast and Serrano ham. Add an extra 23 calories per portion if using skinless, boneless chicken thighs, and an extra 32 calories per portion if using rindless streaky bacon instead of Serrano ham). For a vegetarian version, with four medium eggs cracked in, it would be 178 calories per person.
It’s highly unusual for me to cook without using any herbs or spices (I even resisted sprinkling any on top as a garnish for the photo!), and so I was initially skeptical about cooking this dish, way 'back in the day', but when I tasted it I was amazed, as it is absolutely packed with flavour and you really won’t miss them! It is delicious served with your choice of potatoes par-boiled and fried in a little olive oil, rice (45g uncooked is approximately 50 calories if you're counting), or even cauliflower rice if you're avoiding carbs (38 calories per 100g uncooked). This dish will also re-heat well, although you might need to add a tiny splash of water so it doesn’t dry out, depending on which way you choose to re-heat it.

Fancy a change? Why not make this with some spicy chorizo sausage instead of Serrano ham!

  • 450g chicken breasts [495 calories] cut into thick, chunky slices about 2cm thick across the breast (if you use a 450g pack of 4 chicken breasts, each one will cut into about 4 pieces. If you use skinless, boneless thigh fillets, remove all visible fat and cut each one in half [585 calories])
  • Salt and freshly ground black pepper [2]
  • 2 tsp olive oil (not extra virgin - feel free to use as needed if you're not counting calories, of course!) [82]
  • 70g Serrano (or other air-cured, e.g. Parma) ham, cut into thin strips (approximately 5 slices) [145] or use 125g / 8 slices rindless, streaky bacon on the lean side, for 34 calories per slice, check packaging, around 272 calories)
  • 1 medium onion, diced (120g) [49]
  • 3 bell peppers, de-seeded and cut into long thick strips from top to bottom (300g de-seeded weight) [78]
  • 4 garlic cloves, chopped [24]
  • 600g (1 ½ tins) chopped tomatoes (skin first if using fresh) [150]
  • ½ tsp sugar (optional) [8]
  • 100ml white wine [65]
First make the ‘Chilindron’ (the onion, pepper and tomato mix). Take a large, non-stick, heavy-based pan and put on low heat on the hob. Add one teaspoon of olive oil and gently sauté the onions for 10 minutes until they are just starting to turn golden on the edges. Turn the heat right down and add the peppers and garlic, and cook stirring/tossing regularly without browning them for 10 to 15 minutes until they have softened a little (the peppers won’t change that much, but don’t worry, they’ll soften a lot more when the tomatoes are added and reduced). Be careful not to burn the garlic, or it will make the dish taste bitter.

Add the tomatoes, ½ tsp salt, black pepper and the sugar, turn up the heat and cook for a further 20 minutes or so, stirring occasionally until the tomatoes have reduced right down to a thick, pulpy consistency (see photos above). Make sure they don’t burn on the bottom once they’re nearly there. Once the tomatoes have been cooking for five or ten minutes, you can start cooking the ham/bacon and chicken in another pan if you're happy with two pans on (see below). If the tomatoes cook before the chicken, just turn them off until you’re ready to add the chicken to them.

Season the chicken and heat another medium to large-ish, non-stick pan of a reasonable depth (or if you have time or don't like multitasking, you can finish cooking the chilindron first, set aside in a bowl, then re-use your first pan). Once hot, add the remaining oil and add the sliced Serrano ham (or streaky bacon) and fry until lightly golden and a little crispy. Push to one side of the pan, and then add the chicken and brown it (don’t overcrowd the pan, or turn it over too quickly – let it sit and caramelise for a minute or so, as this will give the dish a good flavour - but you’re not trying to cook the chicken all the way through, just brown the outside) then toss/stir together with the bacon.Add the wine, and stir in, scraping any caramelised juices from the bottom of the pan into the wine with a wooden spoon. As soon as it starts to bubble, cover and leave to simmer/steam for 3 or 4 minutes (for breast meat, or 10-15 minutes if you’re using halved thighs). Remove the lid, and check that the largest piece of chicken is cooked through in the thickest part. If not, put the lid back on, and give it another couple of minutes. Be careful not to overcook chicken breast, or it will dry out and become tough, thighs are much more forgiving! Add the chicken and juices from the pan to the chilindron (onion, pepper and tomato mix) and stir/toss until evenly combined. Taste a little of the sauce and season further if you think it needs extra. Enjoy!

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