I am on a French kick these days and here is an easy recipe from the Basque country, reputed for its chili peppers (like the piment d’espelette). Cousins on my mom’s side immigrated there decades ago, only popping in for a couple of weeks in Lebanon every other year. I hear it is a beautiful region, bordering on Spain and the two countries share similarities in their cuisine. This chicken dish uses a medley of peppers called a pipérade.
Normally this dish is served with rice. I prefer to use freekeh aka roasted green wheat, because it is superb with this type of food, plus it is full of protein and iron and I love its smokey taste. It is available in all Middle Eastern stores and in some health food markets or supermarkets as well, as well as online.
So much for trivia. Let’s get cooking.
- 1 chicken, cut-up or 6 thighs or breasts, cut-up (about 1 3/4 pounds)
- 1/2 cup olive oil
- 3 bell peppers of different colors (it is prettier), sliced in rings
- 2 onions, chopped
- 6 cloves of garlic, kept whole or mashed
- salt, to taste
- pinch of black or white pepper
- 1 teaspoon chili powder or Aleppo pepper or piment d’espelette
- 1/2 pound diced tomatoes (or the equivalent in a can)
- 1 cup freekeh or rice (for cooking freekeh, use the directions on the package or the same method as rice: fry in oil for a couple of minutes then add 1 1/2 volume of water or broth). In the case of freekeh, it is best to soak it for at least 2 hours in plenty of water and rinse it and drain it before use.
1. Salt and pepper the chicken pieces and fry for a few minutes in the heated oil in a large Dutch oven or skillet. Remove the chicken and pan-fry the onions and bell peppers for a few minutes. Add the chicken pieces back and the tomatoes and garlic and chili powder. Cover and simmer over very gentle heat until the chicken is perfectly cooked and still moist. This should take longer if using thighs than breasts. Alternatively, this can be done in a 350F oven, in a pan covered in foil. If using the oven, the chicken should be broiled first for a few minutes. Serve with rice or freekeh.
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