Thursday, July 5, 2012

Pollo Al Ajillo (Spanish Garlic Chicken)

This is another popular Spanish dish.  It is sometimes served as a tapa with other popular dishes such as Spanish Tortilla, Croquettas, Patatas Bravas, Gambas Al Ajillo, and Ropa Vieja - just to name a few. Pollo Al Ajillo or Spanish Garlic Chicken is definitely among my favorite Spanish dishes.  As the name suggests, this dish is made with a lot of garlic in a sweet Sherry and White Wine sauce.  When done right the chicken is cooked to such tenderness that the meat can be easily cut with a fork and the garlic cloves are cooked to a soft supple texture that almost melts into the sauce.

For this recipe, I chose to use boneless chicken with the skin on.  I like the way the skin can add flavor to the sauce when browned in the garlic olive oil.   I use both Sherry and White Wine in the sauce along with a larger amount of chicken broth then this dish usually requires. The result is saucier sweet garlic base that allows for more volume to simmer the chicken and more sauce in the finished product to soak up with bread or to pour over a side of rice or couscous. 

Pollo Al Ajillo

Servings: 3-4
Prep Time: 10 minutes
Marination Time: 60 minutes
Cooking Time: 40 minutes


2 lbs. Chicken (2 boneless thighs and 1 breast cut into 1 inch cubes)
3 Tablespoons Paprika
1/2 Teaspoon Salt
1 Teaspoon Pepper
8 Garlic Cloves Whole + 2 Cloves Chopped
2 Tablespoons Olive Oil
1 Cup Chicken Broth
1/2 Cup Sherry
1/2 Cup White Wine
3-4 Fresh Thyme Stems
2 Bay Leaves
4-5 Mushrooms Sliced (optional)

Step 1: Marinating the Chicken -- Place the Chicken pieces, 2 tablespoons Paprika, salt & pepper in a large bowl. Mixed the ingredients together with your hands until well combined.  Cover the bowl with plastic wrap and place in the refrigerator to marinate for about an hour.

Step 2: Browning the Chicken -- Heat the olive oil in a large pan with lid. Mash the whole garlic cloves with the flat side of a large knife and add it into the pan.  Stir fry the garlic cloves until fragrant (about 10-15 seconds).   Add the chicken thighs and chicken breast to the pan to brown on all sides (about 5-8 minutes).  If cooking whole pieces with skin, place skin facing down and cook for about 2-3 minutes and flip over to cook for another 2-3 minutes.  Once the chicken is brown on all sides remove it from the pan and set aside.

Step 3: The Sauce -- Add the chopped garlic to the pan and saute until fragrant (10 seconds).   Then add in the chicken broth, sherry, white wine, fresh thyme and bay leaves to the pan.  Bring the ingredients to a boil then reduce the heat to a medium simmer.  Let the sauce reduce to about half (8-10 minutes).

Step 4: Simmering the Chicken -- Add the remaining tablespoon of Paprika to the sauce and stir.  Return the chicken to the pan (if using whole pieces place the skin facing up). Bring the sauce to a boil then reduce the heat to a light simmer.  Cover the pan with a lid and simmer for 10 minutes.

Step 5: Finishing Up With Mushrooms -- Add the mushrooms to the pan layered on top of the chicken.  Cover the pan with lid and let simmer for an additional 10-15 minutes on low or until the chicken is fully cooked and tender enough to cut with a fork. 

Serve this dish with rice or couscous.  Also works well with bread to soak up the sauce.

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