After our choir trip to Sevilla and Córdoba a month ago, with a side trip to Jerez, I have been somewhat obsessed with all things Spanish: sherry, coffee in glasses, pan con tomate. It’s not helped by the fact that I have been working very closely on the Brindisa cookbook, due out in the autumn, which is adding delicious fuel to my already rather greedy fire.
So it’s not surprising that the first dish that I cooked from Diana Henry’s wonderfully comprehensive A Bird in the Hand, a book all about chicken, was chicken with sherry and morcilla (Spanish black pudding), a fine example of shove-it-in-one-pan cooking that gives much more than it asks of you.
It’s rare that a book begins with such a strong recipe, but chapter one of Henry’s chicken compendium, in which this is the first recipe, is called ‘Suppers: dishes for every night of the week’ and they really are just that. There are at least three or four that I plan to cook in this chapter alone, and a good 20 or 30 more inspirations in later chapters. I really recommend it.
Since I pretty much always have sherry and cream in the flat, and have missed out the pine nuts (which I find far too expensive for what little taste they have), this has a very short shopping list for me and, hopefully, isn’t too offputting for you either. If you are not a fan of morcilla or can’t get it, try it without or, maybe, try it with some thick slices of Portobello mushrooms, added instead of the morcilla in step 6. One for the repeat list, I promise.
Makes enough for 2
(adapted from Diana Henry’s A Bird in the Hand)
Cupboard (or things you may already have)
salt and pepper
olive oil, 1 tbsp
skin-on, bone-in chicken thighs, 4
morcilla or black pudding, about 8 thick slices (a standard sausage-size one that you get in most supermarkets should be enough)
dry sherry (I used fino), 200ml, plus 3½ more tbsp if necessary
flat-leaf parsley, leaves only, a small handful
double cream, 3½ tbsp
1. Preheat the oven to 180°C/160°C fan-assisted/gas 4.
2. Peel the ½ onion and slice it, root to tip, into thin wedges.
3. Season the chicken thighs.
4. Heat the olive oil in an ovenproof frying pan or roasting dish that is big enough to hold the chicken and morcilla in a single layer (but not so big that they float around in it).
5. Brown the chicken in the pan on both sides (just for colour; it will cook through in the oven) then remove and put to on side.
6. Add the morcilla or black pudding to the pan, cook lightly then take it out and put it with the chicken.
7. If, at this stage, the pan is awash with fat (it might be, if the chicken pieces were particularly fatty) then tip off most of it, (though don’t throw it away; it can be used for roasting potatoes!), leaving behind about 1 tablespoon. Try not to lose any juicy bits of chicken or morcilla stuck to the pan; they will add lots of flavour to the dish and its sauce.
8. Next, fry the onion in the same pan, again just letting it colour.
9. Pour the sherry over the onions, and stir it in. Now’s the time to scrape the bottom of the pan to catch any of the bits of meat stuck to it and mix them into the sherry.
10. Return the chicken and morcilla to the pan then cook in the preheated oven for 40 minutes, until the chicken is done. (You can test it by sticking something sharp into it; if the juices are clear then it’s ready; if they are pink, i.e. bloody, it’s not.)
11. Whilst the chicken is cooking roughly chop the parsley leaves.
12. As soon as the chicken is cooked remove the pan from the oven. If there is not much liquid left in the pan, add the extra sherry now and stir it in well.
13. Finally, stir in the cream and heat gently, just until the cream bubbles then serve sprinkled with the chopped parsley.