*…free range chicken casserole…
Time for another of my Mum’s classic and timeless recipes, honed to perfection over nearly 60 years as a professional chef.
Carne Asada is a classic Spanish dish, a kind of meat casserole if you will. You can adapt this recipe to pretty much any kind of meat but for today’s purpose we will be using pollo or chicken. This recipe also works well with lamb, beef, veal and rabbit. The meat should always be portioned into big chunks and it should always be on the bone. No weights and measures in this recipe, just use your common sense. The chicken we use is our own, corn fed, organic and free range, but if you can’t run to that, this recipe will make a regular supermarket chicken taste pretty darned good…
The night before:
Marinade your chosen meat in some good olive oil, black pepper, plenty of garlic, fresh chopped parsley some decent white wine or dry sherry and even a splash of brandy if you are feeling fancy. No salt tho, that will be added later during the cooking process.
The next day:
Remove meat from the marinade and brown it in a large frying pan. You should take your time with this process and really get the meat good and brown all over as this caramelisation is where a lot of the flavour will come from.
Meanwhile in another large pan, start to gently fry some roughly chopped onions and red pepper and garlic. When your meat is good and brown you can add it to the onions and pepper pan. Deglaze the frying pan with some good meat stock and add this to the chicken along with some saffron, dry sherry, a splash of brandy and more stock till the meat is just covered with liquid, simmer for a few minutes and then add salt to taste.
You can then put the pan with a lid into the oven (or keep it on the hob) and allow to simmer gently till the meat is tender, depending on the cut and type this could take anything from 45 minutes to a couple of hours. Add a little more stock if you need to during this process.
When the meat is cooked remove it from the sauce and keep it warm in a dish. Meanwhile. Add some peeled potatoes and carrots (both cut into big chunks) and add them to the delicious meaty sauce. Simmer gently till they are cooked. The potatoes will take on a lovely golden colour from the saffron and will be super tasty. 10 minutes or so before the veg is cooked you can add some thick slices of red pepper for garnish and colour. Once your veg is cooked put the meat back into the pan and make sure it is thoroughly warm.
Serve with big hunks of bread to soak up all those lovely juices. This is an absolute Spanish staple and is really worth the trouble. As ever thanks to Carmen, my mum, a genius in the kitchen and semi legendary round these parts for her cooking prowess!
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