From the kitchen of One Perfect Bite...After a weekend of barbecue and finger food, I decided to pull out a few stops, toss my original menu and make the Silver Fox a real dinner, complete with tablecloth, candles and flowers. The Valencian Chicken I'm featuring tonight comes from an old recipe that I created years ago for a contest. It was a winner then and now. We both love the food of Spain and while this dish has a decidedly Spanish flair it is easier to make than most Spanish entrees. While the ingredient list looks long, the herbs and spices give it that appearance, so don't let its length deter you from giving the recipe a try. I love the meld of flavors that come from the orange-sherry, olive-raisin combinations in this dish. The raisins provide a hint of sweetness, the degree of which depends on the type of raisin used. I prefer Malaga, but California raisins will do nicely. Regarding raisins, I have a dubious bit of cooking lore to share with you - legend has it that the first raisin crop was the result of a heat wave so intense it dried grapes on the vine. Another fascinating fact, this one verifiably true - a raisin dropped in a glass of fresh champagne will repeatedly bounce from the bottom to the top of the glass Try it, you'll see I speak the truth. I always plump the raisins I use in cooking. They act as sponges in their dry state, but if they're soused before cooking your sauces will be more predictable. The microwave has made short order of this task and can be used if your recipe does not give instructions for plumping. Simply put the raisins in a microwave container with 2 teaspoons of water and nuke, lightly covered, for 1 minute on HIGH power and you're done. Use a dry sherry and fresh orange juice to assemble the sauce for this entrée and you're on your way to a visually spectacular dish that I know you will enjoy. I served our chicken with yellow rice and a shaved asparagus salad. Here is how the chicken is made.
Valencian Chicken...from the kitchen of One Perfect Bite
1/2 cup Malaga or California raisins
1/2 cup Spanish pimento stuffed olives, quartered
1 teaspoon freshly grated orange zest
1 cup fresh orange juice strained to remove pulp
1 cup dry Spanish sherry
3 beef bouillon cubes
2 teaspoons minced garlic
3 teaspoons chopped cilantro
6 to 8 bone-in chicken thighs, skin removed
1/4 cup all-purpose flour
1 teaspoon kosher salt
1/2 teaspoon coarsely cracked black pepper
1 tablespoon + 1 teaspoon sweet smoked Spanish paprika (pimenton)
2 tablespoons olive oil
2 tablespoons toasted almond slivers
2 tablespoons pimento
1 tablespoon chopped cilantro
1 orange slice
1) Combine raisins, olives, orange zest, juice, sherry, bouillon cubes and garlic in a medium saucepan. Bring to a simmer. Remove from heat. Set aside.
2) Combine flour, salt, pepper and 1 tablespoon paprika in a 1-gallon zip-top baggie. Shake to combine. Add chicken, a piece at a time, and shake to coat. Set aside.
3) Heat olive oil in a 12-inch nonstick skillet set over medium-high heat. When oil begins to shimmer add chicken and saute until brown, about 5 minutes per side. Transfer chicken to a plate. Stir in reserved 1 teaspoon paprika. Pour sauce into skillet; use a wooden spoon to release fond from bottom of pan. Return chicken to pan; bring sauce back to a simmer and cook, covered, over medium heat for 20 minutes, turning once to prevent sticking. Using a slotted spoon, transfer chicken to a serving platter; tent with foil to keep warm. Bring sauce to a boil and cook rapidly until it becomes syrupy. Spoon over chicken. Sprinkle with almonds, pimento and cilantro. Twist orange slice to form a wheel and place in center of platter. Yield: 4 to 6 servings.
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