Poulet Basquaise – chicken with peppers, ham, tomatoes and onions

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IMG_9136The perfect one-dish meal! Poulet Basquaise is a standard plat du jour in many bistros across France and there must be at least a hundred interpretations of this classic dish. It originates in the Basque country and is traditionally made with a little Bayonne ham. The generic term Bayonne applies to any salt-cured ham that is air-dried for five months. You may use any unsmoked ham such as prosciutto or Serrano if you cannot find Bayonne. The difference between poulet basquaise and many other chicken and tomato stews is that here the onions and tomatoes are cooked separately from the chicken and peppers and the cooked chicken is served on a bed of the tomato and onion sauce. Additionally the dish tastes especially good due to the addition of Espelette pepper. It is a mildish pepper with lots of flavour and not much heat. If for some reason you cannot find ground piment d’Espelette, substitute 4 small, mildly hot peppers such as serrano peppers or use 1/2 teaspoon hot red pepper flakes. As with all spicy recipes, do feel free to adjust the amount of hot peppers to your taste! This dish is typically served with plain, white, boiled rice. It is a great do-ahead dish and tastes even better the next day.

Serves 6

Ingredients:

6 chicken legs (1 1/2 to 2 kg / 3 to 4 lbs)
Salt and freshly ground black pepper
Flour for dusting
3 tablespoons plus 2 tablespoons (5 total) rendered duck fat or vegetable oil
4 garlic cloves, peeled and thinly sliced
250g / 8oz Bayonne ham or prosciutto, diced
2 large onions, coarsely chopped
1kg / 2lb red and green bell peppers, cored, seeded and thickly sliced
1kg / 2 lb tomatoes, peeled, seeded and chopped (or 1 large can 750g / 28oz plum tomatoes, drained)
Pinch of sugar
1/2 teaspoon ground piment d’Espelette
Parsley, fresh and coarsely chopped for garnish

Preparation:

Season the chicken generously with salt and pepper and lightly dust with flour
In a large, deep and heavy skillet or dutch oven, heat the oil over moderately high heat
Add the chicken and cook on one side until a deep golden brown, about 5 minutes, then turn the pieces over and brown the other side, about 5 minutes more
Work in batches if to avoid overcrowding the pan
Return all the chicken to the pan
Add the garlic, bell peppers, chillis and ham
Cook, covered, over medium low heat until the chicken is cooked and the peppers are soft, about 45 minutes
Stir occasionally and adjust heat to avoid scorching
Meanwhile in another large skillet, heat the remaining 2 tablespoons oil over medium high heat
Add the onions, reduce heat and cook until very soft, about 5 minutes
Add the tomatoes, sugar and piment d’Espelette
Cook for 30 minutes
Season to taste
(The dish can be made ahead up to this point – reheat both mixtures separately before serving)
To serve, spoon the tomato and onion mixture into a deep platter, cover with the chicken, garnish with parsley and serve immediately, with white rice
Enjoy!

La macédoine de legumes / macédoine of vegetables in salad

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Macédoine is a salad composed of small pieces of fruit or vegetables. Vegetable Macedonia or Macédoine de légumes nowadays is usually a cold salad or hors d’oeuvre of diced vegetables served with mayonnaise. Of course, a good homemade mayonnaise will turn this simple starter salad in something quite special, so I highly recommend taking the time to make your own, if at all possible. I added a few flagolets or lima beans that I had left over to mine but this is not part of the classic recipe so I have not included them below. I wanted to serve my macédoine for lunch so included a few slices of excellent ham freshly shaved by my local butcher.

Serves 4 to 6

Ingredients:

350g / 12oz carrots
150g / 5oz long turnips
180g / 6oz fine green beans
500g / 1 lb fresh peas
Small bunch of chives, chopped finely
450g / 1 lb ham (jambon blanc de Paris) sliced thinly
Salt and freshly ground black pepper
For the mayonnaise
1 egg yolk
1 teaspoon fresh lemon juice
1/2 teaspoon strong Dijon mustard
1 teaspoon white wine or champagne vinegar
3/4 cup / 180 ml sunflower oil
Salt and freshly ground black pepper

Preparation:

Start with the mayonnaise
Combine egg yolk, lemon juice, vinegar, mustard, and 1/2 teaspoon salt in a medium bowl
Whisk until blended and bright yellow, about 30 seconds
Whisking constantly, add 1/4 cup oil to yolk mixture, a few drops at a time, about 4 minutes
Gradually add remaining 1/2 cup oil in very slow thin stream, whisking constantly, until mayonnaise is thick, about 8 minutes (mayonnaise will be lighter in color)
Cover and chill
Can be made up to 2 days ahead
Keep chilled
Salad
Peel the carrots and turnips, trim the green beans and shell the peas
Cut the veggies into small cubes
Cook all the vegetables separately in lightly salted boiling water, 7 minutes for carrots, 5 minutes for turnips, 6 minutes for the green beans and 4 minutes for the peas
Drain, plunge in ice cold water to retain the colour and allow to cool
Combine all the vegetables in a bowl, add chives and mayonnaise
Season to taste and toss lightly
Divide the salad between the plates and add a slice or two of ham
Enjoy!

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BBQ pork ribs

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This is a delicious finger-lickin’ bbq pork rib recipe. Make plenty because everyone will be wanting more.

Serves 4

Ingredients:

  • 500ml (2 cups) hot water
  • 2 pork rib racks
Spiced barbecue glaze
  • 1/2 cup tomato sauce
  •  1/4 cup Worcestershire sauce
  •  1/4 cup brown sugar, firmly packed
  •  2 tablespoons apple cider vinegar
  •  1 tablespoon Dijon mustard
  •  3 teaspoons smoked paprika
  •  1 teaspoon dried oregano leaves
  •  1 teaspoon ground cumin

Preparation:

  • Make the glaze:
    Stir tomato sauce, Worcestershire sauce, firmly packed brown sugar, apple cider vinegar, Dijon mustard, smoked paprika, dried oregano leaves and ground cumin in a saucepan over low heat for 2-3 minutes
    Increase heat to medium
    Simmer for 5 minutes or until thickened
  • Combine the water and 2 tablespoons of the glaze in a roasting pan
    Add ribs
    Cover with foil
    Bake at 180C / 360 F, turning once, for 2 hours or until tender
    Brush the ribs with the remaining glaze
  • Preheat a barbecue grill on medium
    Cook ribs for 4-5 minutes each side or until caramelised and slightly charred
    Transfer to a chopping board
  • Cover the ribs with foil and set aside for 2-3 minutes to rest before carving
    To serve, use a large sharp knife to cut between the ribs
    Transfer to a serving platter
    Enjoy!

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