Making Spanish dishes often feels like taking a trip to the origin of my Sardinian heritage. As Sardinia was invaded by the Spanish for many years, I always look for similarities with their culture: from the syntax, to the societal constructs, to the ingredients we put on our table. Almonds are definitely a staple in both Spanish and Sardinian cuisines. In Sardinia we have bitter almonds, mainly used in sweet regional treats, while the Spanish expanded the use of almonds to their savoury dishes, perhaps a trick they learnt from the Arabs. This Spanish dish, usually known as Gallina en Pepitoria (Chicken fricasseée), is a brilliant one for Sunday lunch, when the family is united around the table and spirits are high. Note: as we used red wine, the look of the dish is a lot darker than its usual bright yellow appearance.
1 whole chicken (about 1,500 kg) ½ a carrot ½ a red pepper 1 medium size onion 2 hard boiled eggs (only the yolk) 1 clove of garlic 1 medium slice of bread (stale bread works wonders) 50g almonds 250ml of chicken stock (much better if homemade) 1 pinch of saffron 2 glasses of white wine (but we used red in this recipe) 1 sprig of thyme 1 bayleaf Salt & pepper
Step 1 – Cut the chicken in 8 pieces and rub it with salt and pepper. In a pan, fry it in abundant olive oil, until it’s brown and crispy. Then put it in a plate or bowl on the side.
Step 2 – In the same pan where you cooked the chicken, fry the bread until it’s golden. Place it into a mortar.
Step 3 – Now you can toast your almonds – I did it in a separate pan and without any oil, but you can also use the same pan again. Once they are crunchy and roasted, add the almonds and the saffron to the mortar and grind them with the bread until you achieve a crumbly paste. Then add the egg yolks to the paste.
Step 4 – Fry the onion, garlic, carrot and pepper inside the same pan where you cooked the chicken. You might need to add some oil to do this. Fry them lightly until they are golden and soft.
Step 5 – Place the chicken back in the pan, then add the wine and stock and let it simmer for about 30 minutes.
Step 6 – After that, you can place the chicken on the side and, with a hand blender, blitz your sauce, directly in the pan if possible. Add the paste you made with the almonds and blitz again until you reach the texture of cream. Reincorporate the chicken and let simmer for another five minutes.
Step 7 – Serve the chicken with boiled potatoes or rice or, even better, a thick slice of sourdough bread to soak up all the yummy sauce.