A Recipe for Authentic Spanish Chicken in Wine or Beer Sauce
"Spanish Chicken" comes, figuratively speaking, in all shapes and sizes. There are recipes with olives and garlic, with tomatoes and peppers, but it's hard to tell which is authentic and which is a happy experiment from a food enthusiast. This is of course the case with all dishes that become a hit across the border of the country they originated in. That's why I'm sharing this recipe today. It's not only authentic, it's one of the best there is.
Our mother comes from a small village in the region of Andalusia, Spain. She grew up in a time when the south of Spain was very poor. Back then, the tourism industry was hardly tapped into and especially in Andalusia very few other industries were exploited. Andalusia's main income came from agriculture but not uncommonly the heat would cause a poor harvest. Additionaly, as Spain is mostly a Roman Catholic country, families were large and parents had a lot of mouths to feed. Hence the people of Andalusia worked with what they had. Very creatively, they came up with filling, wholesome, and tasteful dishes that required few or cheap ingredients. This Spanish Chicken dish is one of those.
A Taste of Home
Because this dish sprang from creativity, necessity, and poverty, it doesn't have a name. Our grandmother and mother referred to it as "Spanish Chicken" simply to let us know they were preparing the chicken the way they'd done in Spain. Since their emigration they must have made a thousand different kinds of chicken recipes, some of which didn't stick and some of which did, but for me this is the recipe that will always taste like home. This chicken tastes like authentic Spain, and that's why it deserves to be shared (and tried).
Given the origin of this dish there aren't many authentic varieties on it, but you can replace the wine with beer to make the chicken a bit more tender.
- 4 boneless, skinless chicken breasts
- ¾ bottle dry white wine
- 1 onion
- 3 bay leaves
- 3 - 4 garlic cloves
- 1 small handful of black pepper balls
- 6 tbsp olive oil
- salt to taste
- With a food processor or a fine knife, mince the garlic and shred the onion.
- Clean the chicken and cut each breast in half. Sprinkle with just a little bit of salt.
- Heat the oil in a deep skillet or frying pan on medium heat. When hot, add the onion, garlic, and bay leaves and cook until the onion is glassy.
- Add the chicken and the pepper balls . Cook until the chicken is slightly browned and just done. If you run out of oil, turn down the heat a little or add another dash of olive oil.
- Pour in the wine and add salt to taste. Turn up the heat and bring the wine to a boil. When boiling, turn the heat down again and let simmer for about an hour (with the lid on askew so the steam can escape). While the wine is simmering you may want to have a taste as you can still adjust it by adding a bit more salt or a bay leaf. Just keep in mind it will taste less winey once it's boiled down.
- When most of the wine has boiled down your Spanish chicken is ready to be served.
For the Day After
If kept in the refrigerator this dish easily lasts a day or two. It's great for taking on trips between two slices of French bread, or just to prepare in advance if you have a busy day ahead. On holiday in Spain, we used to make this one day ahead and take it with us to the beach.
Eat with Simple Side Dishes
Sides that go well with this dish are white rice or french fries. In my mother's family this dish was usually eaten with french fries and a salad, as in the first picture. If you're looking for an authentic Spanish salad recipe, rest assured it's easily made with lettuce, cucumber slices, tomato slices, a bit of salt and vinegar, and just a dash of olive oil. We sometimes add onions, olives, or even pickle slices for variety. Nowadays we also often eat this with French bread.
My favorite bit of the entire recipe is probably the wine sauce. I love to dip my bread in it, or drizzle some over my rice.
Enjoy Your Meal!
I hope you enjoy this taste of Spain, and as the Spanish say: Aproveche! ("Dig in!")