14 Mar Recipe: Chicken in Samfaina Sauce
The last few days I’ve felt like a cast member of Glee. No, I haven’t been dancing about the living room singing mash ups. I’ve just gone quietly about my own business only to get a great, big slushie thrown in my face. While these icy facials came from above, not eye-level, they were just as jolting. After enduring a couple of sneak attacks, I’m beginning to think Old Man Winter is a bully with a very bad attitude. What’s he plotting next? A cosmic wedgie?
So, to avoid the next inevitable ambush of winter, I ran to the library like a good little student and hid behind a book. In the process, I warmed my ice-splashed face with the sun of Spain. Through the gorgeous images in The Food of Spain: A Journey for Food Lovers, I basked in a recipe for Basque Baked Tuna, dipped my toe in the Cantabrian Sea and gorged virtually on figs loaded with honey, almonds, chocolate and cream. I sailed away from my troubles on a fishing boat, disembarking only to wander the markets or stroll through an olive grove. I lingered so long I’m surprised I didn’t get sunburned.
When I finally pried myself from the sofa, I tried some of the recipes. I made Prawn Fritters — which, by the way, should not be made in a waffle iron — and a big dish of Chicken in Samfaina Sauce. After learning from the fritters not to veer from the instructions, I stuck to this chicken recipe closely. Even if it did mean opening a bottle of white wine for the mere 1/2 cup required.
The results? Delicious and warming. I loved that the eggplant didn’t have to be salted and left to drain. It also went together fairly quickly. I chopped all the vegetables while the chicken and onions cooked, so prep time wasn’t too long. While the chicken simmered I cleaned up, set the table and put my feet up for a quick siesta. Ah, this is the life.
Although the soggy snow kept coming, I had the better part of a bottle of white to finish off and a whole pot of chicken. Take that Old Man Winter!
Recipe: Chicken in Samfaina Sauce
Excerpt printed with permission. From Food of Spain: A Journey for Food Lovers by Vicki Harris and John Newton. Published by Whitecap Books, 200.
Summary: Everyone else in Spain Describes Samfaina as the Catalan ratatouille, while the Catalans say that ratatouille is the Provencal Samfaina. Either way, it works wonders with poultry.
- 3 pounds chicken, cut into 8 pieces
- 1/4 cup olive oil
- 2 large onions
- 1 medium eggplant, peeled and cut into 3/4-inch pieces
- 3 cloves garlic, crushed
- 1 medium zucchini, cut into strips
- 2 green or red peppers, cut into 1/2-inch strips
- 1 28-oz can diced tomatoes
- 1 bay leaf
- 2 tbsp chopped herbs (such as thyme, oregano and parsley)
- 1/2 cup white wine
- Season the chicken pieces with salt and pepper. Heat the oil in a heavy-based saucepan over medium heat. Add the chicken in batches and brown well on all sides. Remove from the pan and reduce the heat to medium-low.
- Add the onion and cook for about 10 minutes, or until softened. Add the eggplant, garlic, zucchini and peppers, and cook for 10 minutes, or until the vegetables are softened.
- Stir in the tomatoes, bay leaf, herbs and wine, and return the chicken pieces to the pan. Bring to the boil, then cover and simmer over low heat for about 45 minutes, or until the chicken is tender and the eggplant is soft. Season well with salt and pepper before serving.
Number of servings (yield): 4
Meal type: dinner
Culinary tradition: Spanish