We've got a chill in the air, and it's time for thick soups and stews. Today's recipes are truly a salute to late summer. Our CSA has provided us with a bounty of peppers and tomatoes, and I'm happy to put them to use in the Chicken Basquaise recipe. I also had the treat of using a locally grown chicken. This recipe is great because you can make it with only chicken thighs or wings if you like. The meat will simmer and be nearly falling off the bone when it's served. I decided to serve ours over brown rice. What's Basquaise, you ask? It means in the style of the Basque region. A region on the border of France and Spain. The foods are unique, simple and hearty. Chicken is browned and combined with a onions, garlic, tomatoes, white wine, and thyme. The vegetables are simmered first, until tender, then the chicken is added. the mixure simmers for 45 minutes, until the chicken is tender. I let mine simmer longer, for "falling off the bone" tenderness.
For a little extra punch and flavor of the region, you can add a pinch of chili powder.
I had a blast peeling and chopping the tomatoes. They were SO juicy and flavorful. I had to take a picture as they were almost ready to drip off the cutting board.
On to the bread. This recipe is absolutely delicious. Serve it with any meal, make toast, make crostini, just make this bread! Be patient, though. It's sticky and a tad bit tricky. I know you can do it!
As I read through Basque recipes, I learned the shepherd would place bread dough in a special iron pot and bury it in the coals of his campfire in the morning. After tending the flock all day, he would return to the pot of bread, which would be ready. The first piece would be cut from the top and given to the sheep dog. Since my dogs are herders (in need of a herd), this is for them. They didn't get any bread, but were very interested. The aroma and flavor of this bread is amazing. I didn't add the sage, but I know it would add great flavor.
Basque Shepherd's Bread
Yield: 1 Loaf
3/4 c Water
1 T Olive oil
1 3/4 c Unbleached all-purpose flour
1 T Sugar
1 tsp Dried sage
1 tsp. To 1 tsp. salt - to taste
1 1/2 tsp Active dry yeast --- or---
LARGE LOAF (or 2 smaller loaves)
1 1/4 c Water
2 T Olive oil
3 c Unbleached all-purpose flour
4 tsp Sugar
2 tsp Dried sage
1 tsp To 2 tsp. salt - to taste
2 tsp Active dry yeast
Add all the ingredients together in a bowl, and mix well with a wooden spoon. When dough is no longer shaggy, turn out onto the counter, cover with the bowl, and allow it to rest about 5-10 minutes. Then, using a bench scraper to help, pull the dough toward you, fold over the top, pick up the dough and slap (upside-down) on the counter surface. Repeat until the dough no longer sticks to the counter. The dough will be smooth, very loose, and a little sticky. Use a dusting of flour to help shape the dough into a ball. Allow the dough to rise for about an hour until doubled. I used a baguette pan, and made a long loaf shape which was contained by the sides of the pan. You could use a cast enamel pot or bread pan to contain the bread. Allow the bread to rise a 2nd time for about 45 minutes. Bake at 350 for about 30 minutes, or until the loaf is golden brown and the internal temperature is 180 degrees F.
Here's the whole meal, tender chicken, aromatic vegetables in very flavorful broth, and warm wonderful bread. Let me know how your bread turns out! Stop by soon, I have a great apple dessert recipe for you.