Catalunya is one of Spain’s 17 autonomous regions – comunidades autonomas – and its cuisine is arguably the richest in all of Spain, possibly because of its proximity to France. Its location has helped bring many cultural influences from Romans and Arabs in ancient times, as well as from French and Italians in more recent times. It relies heavily on ingredients popular along the Mediterranean coast, including tomatoes, garlic, fresh herbs, olive oil (prepared using the variety of olive called the “arbequina“), legumes (beans, chickpeas), mushrooms, onions, cod, wheat products (bread, pasta), almonds, wines, all sorts of cheese, poultry, lamb, and many types of fish like sardine, anchovy, tuna, and cod. Catalan is the regional language spoken and Barcelona is its capital.
At a bar mitzvah, recently, I run into a childhood friend from Uruguay, Susana R., and she just emailed me her favorite chicken recipe, including the accompanying photo:
Pollo a la Catalana
- 2 tablespoons olive oil
- 1/2 cup flaked almonds
- 2 onions, roughly chopped
- 8 chicken thighs, deboned, skinned, cubed
- 2 cloves garlic, finely chopped
- 1/2 cup raisins
- 3/4 dry red wine
- 1 cup chicken stock *
- 1 small bunch flat-leaf parsley roughly chopped
- salt and pepper
- Heat a bit of the oil in a large frying pan, add the almonds and fry, stirring a few minutes, until golden. Scoop out of the pan and set aside.
- Add the remaining oil to the pan, add the onions, chicken and garlic and fry over medium heat for 10 minutes stirring constantly until deep golden. Mix in the raisins, sherry, chicken stock, salt and pepper to taste.
- Simmer for 10 minutes, until the sauce has reduced slightly and the chicken is cooked through. Sprinkle with the parsley and serve with rice and salad.
* Chicken Stock
Yield: 16 cups
- 1 small bunch (about 1/2 oz) Italian (flat-leaf) parsley
- 1/2 teaspoon black pepper
- 4 pound hen, cleaned and cut into four pieces
- 1 medium yellow onion
- 3 celery stalks
- 1 large carrot
- 4 bay leaves
- 12 black peppercorns
- 4 cloves
- 1 teaspoon salt
- Place the celery and peppercorns on a piece of cheesecloth, then using kitchen string, tie the ends of the cheesecloth together to make a bag.
- Place 16 cups water in a large pot. Add all other ingredients. Bring to a boil over medium high heat.
- Reduce the heat to medium-low and simmer for 4 hours, skimming the surface occasionally to catch and discard the residue and foam. Add extra water to the broth, making sure the original level of broth is maintained throughout.
- Drain the stock through a strainer discarding the vegetables and reserving the flesh for further use in other recipes.
The chicken stock can be refrigerated for up to 4 days or frozen up to 30 days.
Enjoy, gentle reader, enjoy!