Basque Style Chicken

Basque Style ChickenTomatoes, onions, jambon de Bayonne, and piment d’Espelette are the hallmark ingredients of this lively plat mijoté (simmered dish) from France’s Basque region. Piment d’Espelette is a mild, smoky-sweet red pepper that gets ground into a paprika-like powder. A little paprika and a wee bit of cayenne pepper makes an admirable stand in—especially with some roasted red peppers in the mix to add some sweetness. As for the jambon de Bayonne, that’s France’s answer to prosciutto di Parma. Simply use a good-quality prosciutto that you like–La Quercia prosciutto from Norwalk, Iowa is a particularly good choice.

PS: If you want to learn more about the wonderful Piment d’Espelette spice, read my post, “How to Use Piment d’Espelette.” It offers quick ways to use the spice, plus links to other recipes on this site that call on it.

Makes 4 servings

8 bone-in chicken thighs
Salt and freshly ground black pepper to taste
2 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil
1 medium onion halved and sliced
6 cloves garlic, minced
1/2 cup sweet or dry vermouth or dry sherry
1/2 cup low-sodium chicken broth
1 14.5 ounce can tomatoes, drained then pureed in a food processor
1/2 teaspoon dried thyme, crushed
1/2 teaspoon piment d’Espelette or 1/2 teaspoon Spanish paprika and
1/8 teaspoon of cayenne pepper
1 7-ounce jar roasted red peppers drained and thinly sliced (about 1 cup)
1/4 cup Jambon de Bayonne or prosciutto, diced
1 tablespoon extra-virgin olive oil
Side-Dish Suggestion: Any-Night Baked Rice

1. Season chicken thighs with salt and pepper. Heat the 2 tablespoons olive oil a Dutch oven or braiser over medium-high heat; add the chicken and cook, turning often, about 10 to 15 minutes or until brown on all sides. Transfer chicken to a plate and drain off all but 1 tablespoon fat from pan.

2. Add onions and garlic to the pan and cook, stirring, about 4 to 5 minutes or until the onion is tender but not brown. Remove pan from heat. Away from heat, steadily (without allowing the liquids to spatter) add vermouth and chicken broth. Return pan to heat and cook, stirring to loosen any browned bits from pan. Return chicken to pan and add the tomatoes, thyme, and piment d’Espelette. Bring to boiling; reduce heat. Cover and simmer for 30 to 35 minutes or until chicken is done (180° F.), adding the sliced roasted red peppers 5 to 10 minutes towards the end of cooking time.

3. A few minutes before chicken is done, cook and stir prosciutto in the 1 tablespoon of hot olive oil about 1 to 2 minutes or until crisp; with a slotted spoon, remove prosciutto from pan; drain on paper towels and set aside.

4. With a slotted spoon, remove chicken and roasted red pepper strips from pan; cover to keep warm. Boil pan sauce over medium-high heat until desired thickness. Divide chicken and peppers among plates; top with sauce and sprinkle with crisped prosciutto to serve.

P.S.: Want more great recipes for your braiser? Check out my e-book, The Braiser Cookbook($2.99). And remember, you don’t have to own a Kindle to read e-books. You can download a free Kindle reading app here: – Read eBooks using the FREE Kindle Reading App on Most Devices


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8 comments to Basque Style Chicken

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  • linda doyle

    Hi Wini –

    Thank you for this site. It’s a delight. One suggestion though. After the recipe would it be at all possible to make suggestions about side dishes?

  • Candy

    Hi Winnie. I made that last comment before coffee. Please don’t post. What I’d really like to say is how much I like your book, your site and your recipes and most of all your enthusiasm for it all. I also went to France as a kid and have loved the food ever since. Working my way through your book. Looking forward to this Basque chicken recipe and the excuse to buy the piment. Merci! Candy

  • Wini

    Thanks for the note, Candy! So glad you’re enjoying my work. Hope you like the Basque (or is it Roman !) chicken! 🙂

  • Mike

    Great flavorful dish – will make againd one comment though… Using proscuitto seems odd in that Basque territory is somewhat far removed from Italy. I substituted a good chunk of Serrano ham I had leftover from Christmas. Seemed a Nobel and fitting use for it, and worked quite well. I’m liking the espelette pepper powder too – thank you for sharing the recipe!

    • Wini

      Indeed! In fact, Basques have their own prosciutto: Jambon de Bayonne — most versions are rubbed with a little piment d’espelette. Is that not crazy-good sounding? I called for that as the first option (as that would be more local to Basque cooking). It’s amazing, but very difficult to find state-side (in most places), which is why I gave prosciutto option. Of course, of all the prosciuttos in the world, I’m kind of partial to La Quercia, made just up the road from me in Norwalk, Iowa! 🙂

      Thanks for your thoughts on this. It’s always nice to know when folks enjoy my recipes. Cheers.

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