Another week, another reason to treat myself to a new cook book!
If I had to pick a favourite place in the world, I’m not sure if I could, but I know that Catalonia would be up there. It’s the North East region of Spain, taking in Barcelona, Lloret, Girona, and my favourite town in Spain, Tossa de Mar (mentioned in a prior post).
Much like the divisions between England and Scotland, to an outsider, we may seem fairly similar, but when it comes to food, there are little quirks that make us different, and I think these little differences make Catalan cuisine superior to it’s Southern cousin.
It is slightly more frugal, and less showy than Spanish cuisine, and has an unfair reputation for being ‘brown food’. But what it lacks in presentational flair, it more than makes up for in depth of flavour, and being distinctly different from anything else Spanish food presents.
The chicken is warm and spicy, and shows some of the Moorish influence prevalent in Spanish food, and escalivada is a delicious side, served hot or cold- I make way more than I need and dip into it all week. But I could totally eat as much as this recipe makes in one sitting!
- 2 Chicken breasts
- 1tbsp cinnamon
- A handful of roughly chopped parsley
- Olive oil
- c. 150ml good Spanish Brandy (I wholeheartedly recommend Soberano for two reasons. Firstly, it has a warm fire and earthy taste to it, and secondly, those cads in Spain have put the word sober in there, something I have never been once open a bottle of the stuff)
- 4 Aubergines
- 2 Roquito Peppers
- 1 Yellow pepper
- Onion (optional)
- Garlic oil
- Salt and pepper
- 2 plastic supermarket bags (but for God’s sake don’t eat the things)
Start by preparing the escalivada. Halve and deseed all the peppers, and quarter the aubergines, removing the seedy middle.. Feel free to add some wedges of onion at this point too. Place them all in a large roasting dish, and give them a good rub down with a mix of equal parts olive and garlic oil. Put this in the oven for about 40 minutes at 190c.
While the veggies roast, put a nice dusting of cinnamon, salt and pepper on each of the chicken breasts, and throw these into a frying pan over a medium heat for a few minutes each side to seal them- this will keep the meat lovely and moist. Set aside.
When the vegetables are ready, remove them from the oven (leave it on, you’ll need it in a few minutes), and place the peppers into one plastic bag, and the aubergines in the other. Tie them off immediately, and leave them to steam themselves further for 15 minutes.
Put the chicken breasts into the smallest ovenproof dish you have that will hold them, and pour over the brandy. It should mostly cover the chicken. Put this in the oven for 20 minutes, or as usual, till the juices run clear.
When the time is up on steaming the vegetables, remove them from the bag. The skins should just fall off, with little effort on your own part, so remove these, then cut the peppers and aubergines into long ribbons, about 5mm wide, and stir them all together, so that they tangle in and out of each other.
Remove the chicken from the oven, and plate up. Pour over a little of the reduced brandy because wasting good booze is a sin.