The Basque take on the chicken challenge

What’s with the menu planning this week, if it ain’t an ocean of fish, we get a farmyard of birds, and chickens anywhere we look to eat. This time though we’d left the meal to our host, naturally, of a delightful dinner that, as usual in her hands, managed to be serious scoff and wine without any of the social drawbacks of pompous, patronising guests or attempts at country house posh service. So, just great company and perfect food.
Starter – which vanished in a trice I noticed – was a decorous plate of salami, Parmesan and slow roasted tomatoes of unctuous sweetness and moorishness. It really was a little platter of such simplicity – although the tomatoes no doubt took hours of slow cooking – that got the taste buds slavering in anticipation and the food notes – all Mediterranean – should have given us a clue to the next course.
The one dish meal, in the ubiquitous Le Crueset (passim) – turned out to be Basque chicken. I don’t know the recipe, but it seemed like a chicken paella ie the rice was slow cooked in the pan in the oven, with brown long grain rice still with a bite and yet wonderfully moist from the sauce. The chicken had been carefully portioned – no bones I think judging from the other plates – and the whole cooked with chorizo, peppers, olives, tomatoes and whole segments of orange, complete with peel. I suspect the blessed Delia at work here.
Seconds for the greedy, then attempts to eat the Gorgonzola that went wonderfully with the wine, brought back from its chateau just a few weeks ago by other guests.
Real pudding – well a cake of such denseness and taste that a slice needed the fresh orange and grapefruit slices to meliorate its richness, and the blob of creme fraiche went down well too.
Perfect then on every count? You bet.

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