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Pollo al Chilindrón: A Flavorful Spanish Classic

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Pollo al Chilindrón, or Chicken in Tomato and Pepper Sauce, is a quintessential dish from the Aragon and Navarre regions of Spain. This hearty and vibrant dish combines tender chicken with a rich sauce made from tomatoes, red peppers, and a blend of aromatic spices. Pollo al Chilindrón encapsulates the essence of Spanish home cooking, offering a taste that is both comforting and exhilarating. Let’s explore the history, ingredients, and preparation of this classic Spanish recipe.

A Glimpse into Spanish Culinary Tradition

The origins of Pollo al Chilindrón lie in the heart of Spain, where the cuisine is characterized by the use of fresh, local ingredients and bold flavors. The dish is a testament to the Spanish tradition of slow-cooking, allowing the ingredients to meld together into a harmonious blend of tastes and textures. It is often served as a family meal, reflecting the communal nature of Spanish dining.

The key to Pollo al Chilindrón is its chilindrón sauce, a savory mix of tomatoes, red bell peppers, and ham, which adds a distinct depth of flavor to the dish. This sauce is versatile and can also be used with other meats such as lamb or rabbit, but it pairs particularly well with chicken.

Ingredients for Pollo al Chilindrón

To prepare Pollo al Chilindrón, you will need the following ingredients:

  • For the Chicken:
    • 1 whole chicken (about 1.5 kg), cut into serving pieces
    • Salt and pepper to taste
    • 4 tablespoons olive oil
  • For the Chilindrón Sauce:
    • 2 large onions, finely chopped
    • 6 cloves garlic, minced
    • 2 red bell peppers, cut into strips
    • 1 green bell pepper, cut into strips
    • 200g serrano ham or cured ham, diced
    • 4 ripe tomatoes, peeled and chopped (or 1 can of crushed tomatoes)
    • 1 tablespoon sweet paprika
    • 1 bay leaf
    • 1 cup dry white wine
    • 1 cup chicken broth
    • Salt and pepper to taste
    • Fresh parsley, chopped (for garnish)

Instructions

Step 1: Prepare the Chicken
  1. Season the Chicken: Season the chicken pieces with salt and pepper on both sides.
  2. Sear the Chicken: In a large skillet or Dutch oven, heat the olive oil over medium-high heat. Add the chicken pieces in batches, ensuring not to overcrowd the pan. Sear each side until golden brown, about 5-7 minutes per side. Remove the chicken from the skillet and set aside.
Step 2: Prepare the Chilindrón Sauce
  1. Cook the Onions and Garlic: In the same skillet, add the chopped onions and minced garlic. Cook over medium heat until the onions become soft and translucent, about 10 minutes.
  2. Add the Peppers: Add the red and green bell peppers to the skillet. Cook for another 5 minutes until the peppers begin to soften.
  3. Add the Ham: Stir in the diced serrano ham or cured ham. Cook for 3-4 minutes until the ham releases its flavor and begins to brown slightly.
  4. Incorporate Tomatoes and Paprika: Add the chopped tomatoes (or canned crushed tomatoes) and sweet paprika. Stir to combine and let the mixture cook for 10 minutes until it thickens and the flavors meld together.
  5. Deglaze with Wine: Pour in the dry white wine, scraping the bottom of the skillet to release any browned bits. Let the wine reduce by half.
Step 3: Combine and Simmer
  1. Add Chicken and Broth: Return the seared chicken pieces to the skillet. Pour in the chicken broth and add the bay leaf. Bring the mixture to a simmer.
  2. Simmer Until Tender: Reduce the heat to low, cover, and let the chicken simmer for 45 minutes to an hour, or until the chicken is tender and fully cooked. Stir occasionally and adjust the seasoning with salt and pepper as needed.
Step 4: Serve
  1. Garnish: Remove the bay leaf. Garnish the dish with chopped fresh parsley for a burst of color and freshness.
  2. Serve: Serve Pollo al Chilindrón hot, accompanied by crusty bread, rice, or potatoes to soak up the delicious sauce.

Culinary Tips and Variations

  • Tomatoes: For a richer sauce, use a combination of fresh tomatoes and canned tomatoes. The fresh tomatoes add brightness, while the canned tomatoes provide depth.
  • Peppers: Adjust the ratio of red to green peppers according to your taste. Red peppers are sweeter, while green peppers add a slight bitterness.
  • Ham: If serrano ham is unavailable, you can substitute with prosciutto or another type of cured ham.

Nutritional Benefits

Pollo al Chilindrón is a well-balanced dish that provides a good source of protein from the chicken and a variety of vitamins and minerals from the vegetables. The use of olive oil and ham adds healthy fats and additional nutrients. This dish is not only delicious but also nutritious, making it a great option for a wholesome meal.

Conclusion

Pollo al Chilindrón is a vibrant and flavorful dish that captures the essence of Spanish home cooking. The combination of tender chicken and the rich chilindrón sauce makes it a comforting yet sophisticated meal. Whether you’re looking to explore new culinary horizons or simply enjoy a hearty, satisfying dish, Pollo al Chilindrón is sure to delight your taste buds. Embrace the rich flavors and traditions of Spain with this classic recipe and savor the taste of authentic Spanish cuisine.

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Written by Robert Zelesky

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