I’m back! Well, I have been for a while now. As with every trip or holiday, its conclusion always heralds a major pile of all sorts of catching up: a mountain of work, household bills and loose ends, family to kiss and coddle.
I’m still wading through all that – with work and bills steadily and surely, with the kisses more enthusiastically – but making dents and progress (and getting kissed back just as enthusiastically). In any case, I couldn’t wait to get back in here and share more than just a recipe with you! But more on that in a bit.
First I wanted to tell you what my trip was all about, if you’ll allow this girl a little bit of rambling. Barcelona has always been a city close to my heart. I fell madly in love with it when I first visited, way back when I was a teenager (and dinosaurs roamed the earth!). It was my first time to travel to Europe. I went with my parents while my brother was sent to Australia to visit with cousins. One of our cousins there is his best friend and they were going to do one summer camp or other. Or so said the official parental statement. But I knew the real reason. It was because he wasn’t sophisticated enough for Europe yet. And I, in all my teenage delusions, of course was.
That was a million years ago, but Barcelona still continues to entrance me. It is a city of both history and mystery, of art and drama, of idyllic streets and burning passions, of unique culture and charming eccentricity, of both age-old traditions and breaking with tradition. You can see it in the Roman ruins they bump into every time they try to dig up a new parking lot. You feel it smooth curves of a modernisme structure, breaking away from the gothic like a breathless swimmer propelling himself towards the light. You hear it in the brisk yet swaying Catalan language that surrounds you when you walk.
You experience it in Antoni Gaudi’s famed cathedral, that grows each time I see it. When I first visited it had hardly a roof. Now its ceiling canopies over us like an enchanted forest. It is like some living, organic creature, that grows with its city, with its people, with the people that flock to see it and whose entrance fees go towards its completion. Inside and out it is strewn with countless symbols, enough to keep this then-young/now-old Catholic geek captivated for hours.
It is a city whose secrets I feel I may never fully discover. Perhaps that’s the reason I keep returning. The old couples at mass. The busy market and the spice lady I return to every time, to top up my supply of pimenton and spice mixes. The narrow streets of the old quarters and their washing lines on rickety balconies. The old bakeries that churn out, quite literally, the daily bread of a proud people. The amazing modernist designs that defied convention with their strange and mesmerizing beauty. The wide sidewalks of Paseo de Gracia where I take note of all the signs on the old buildings that say “for sale” or “for rent” and I dream and dream and dream about “what if“.
And the food, oh the food! I have never left Barcelona without my jeans getting tighter.
This year, I wanted to (hopefully) share all that with my best friend, who was doing a round-the-world turning-40 trip. She was going to different places that held meaning for her and meeting different people there. I was Barcelona…finally embarking on the Barcelona trip we had long planned. It was wonderful. Being in my favorite city with my best friend is an experience I will treasure forever.
So, I wanted to share some of this happiness with you! And what better way than a giveaway! When I went to restock my spices I bought extra to share. If you are a long time reader here then you know that pimenton de la Vera is one of my favorite spices to use (and have been guilty of overusing!) – a pantry staple and my secret weapon to turn the ordinary into the extraordinary. Its smoky flavor adds an extra oomph to many dishes. I’ve also said that it’s important to get pimenton with a denominacion de origen – the difference in flavor and aroma is worth seeking out (and paying for). But just in case you needed more convincing I’ve got an extra tin here for one of you to play around and experiment with.
Or you can start with the recipe below.
Spanish Chicken in Bravas Sauce
(adapted from Vikalinka)
For the bravas sauce:
- 2 tablespoons olive oil
- 1 white onion, chopped
- 6 cloves garlic, chopped
- 1/2 teaspoon Pimenton de la Vera, picante
- 1 teaspoon Pimenton de la Vera, dulce
- 1 medium carrot, small dice
- 2-3 sprigs fresh thyme, leaves picked
- 1 400-gram can chopped tomatoes
- 1 tablespoon red wine vinegar
- Salt and pepper, to taste
For the chicken:
- 1-2 tablespoons olive oil
- 8 bone-in skin-on chicken thighs
- 1 – 1 1/2 teaspoons Pimenton de la Vera, dulce
- 1 red pepper, sliced
- 1 400-gram can white beans, drained
- 1/2 cup green olives
- 2-3 sprigs parsley, leaves picked and roughly chopped
- Salt and pepper to taste
– Make your sauce first. Heat 2 tablespoons of olive oil in a pan and then add the onion and garlic. Sauté until the onions soften.
– Add the carrot and thyme leaves and cook until the carrots start to soften. Add a spoonful of water if things are starting to look too dry.
– Add chopped tomatoes, vinegar, pimenton dulce and picante, and a pinch of salt and pepper. Stir and simmer until the sauce has thicken, about 10 minutes or so.
– When it has reached your desired consistency take it off the heat. Pour the sauce into a food processor or blender and process until smooth, then set aside. Take care with placing hot liquids in the blender!
– Now get on with the chicken. Sprinkle the chicken thighs with pimenton, salt, and pepper on both sides. Heat the oil in an oven-proof skillet or pan and brown the chicken on all sides (it shouldn’t be fully cooked). Do not overcrowd the pan so cook in batches if necessary. Set the chicken aside and drain most of the fat from the pan (I leave about 1 tablespoon behind because it adds to the flavor and I like to live dangerously).
– Now add the sliced red peppers to the remaining hot oil in the same skillet and sauté just until it starts to lose some of its crunch. Then add the bravas sauce to this and stir. Add the beans and spread out evenly, then nestle the chicken pieces among the sauce and beans. Drizzle any chicken juices that have gathered while the chicken was set aside over the lot. Scatter olives over.
– Place the pan in a pre-heated 350F oven for about 30 minutes or until cooked through. Sprinkle with chopped parsley when done.
The original recipe calls for a red chili in the sauce but I substituted pimenton picante and dulce for a milder heat since my kids were going to eat this and I haven’t yet built up their heat tolerance to our level (currently they are still at “buffalo chicken wings” level…but I’m working on it).
I love how you’ve got the beans, sauce, and chicken cooking in one dish. These hearty, one-pot dishes are just the type of thing I like to serve to my family.
So, without further ado! I’ll be giving away one tin of Pimenton de la Vera dulce. There are three varieties: dulce, picante, and agridulce. I use the dulce the most and I think it would be the most versatile. If you’ve been hanging around here you would know that I use it in anything and everything: from Spanish dishes, to pasta sauce, to a simple fried egg. Just search for pimenton in this blog and you will get a ton of ideas!
Aside from the pimenton I’ll also be including a small pot of the “asados mix” that I buy from my spice lady. She says it works well with meats and roasts and I’ve used it successfully with chicken, beef, and lamb. A lot of my simple baked chicken dishes you see on my Instagram feed are rubbed with this spice mix.
How to join? This giveaway is open to anyone in the Philippines, as long as you can provide me with a valid email (where I can get in touch with you). All you have to do is leave a comment on this post saying what you plan to do with the spices! Winner will be chosen at random, as in name-picked-out-of-a-hat (I use a real hat…I know, I am a true oldie). Deadline for this giveaway will be October 16. It’s that easy!
Also, it’s my birthday this weekend so let’s call this a birthday giveaway shall we? 🙂
I am so excited for one of you to have these spices that I love cooking with!!! We can cook in tandem!
p.s. If you are travelling to Barcelona and have any questions you’d like to ask please feel free to leave a comment or email me.
p.p.s. Have a wonderful weekend!