Frango na Púcara or its Distant Relative

I created a version of this dish based on stories I'd been told about it. As it happens, what I'd been told differed from person to person. So this version is doubtless a long way from its Portuguese roots but, nevertheless, it's seriously tasty. It takes its name from the dish in which it's cooked and that should really be quite a large, lidded clay pot (púcara). I don't have one so I used a classic, ceramic casserole dish. 

The mustard and the assortment of alcohol makes this a little different to other chicken casseroles and you might imagine that the resulting dish tastes boozy but, in fact, it has a very savoury flavour. A whole, jointed chicken is normally at the heart of this dish but I've used chicken thighs here in an attempt to keep things simpler and smaller. Originally I was told to use chorizo for this dish but then I was told to use an air-dried ham instead, so use whichever you prefer and, if you use the ham, add a little paprika.

Frango na Púcara

I have a vivid imagination (as well as being extremely gullible) and I assumed that the original recipe for Frango na Púcara dated back many centuries and was probably enjoyed by Vasco da Gama as he sailed towards India. In fact, I've recently read that it might have been invented at around the time Sgt Pepper was released. 

If you fancy some white wine then a drop or two of Portuguese alvarinho would go down well with this dish, but I think a light red (gently chilled, perhaps) would be a good choice too. I don't think you need any fancy accompaniments with it, so serve with boiled new or mashed potatoes, rice or just some nice crusty bread. This will serve 4 unless you're really hungry.


8 chicken thighs, with skin on and bone in
6 large tomatoes, skinned, seeded and chopped
8 shallots, peeled and sliced
2 carrots, chopped into small dice
10 (or so) mushrooms, sliced
100 g dry cured ham, in small chunks or dice (or use the same amount of chorizo)
4 garlic cloves
2 tsp paprika (if you use chorizo you can omit this paprika)
220 ml white wine
100 ml port
60 ml brandy
8 tsp Dijon mustard


Brown the chicken thighs lightly in a little olive oil and set aside. Preheat the oven to 180⁰C.

Place half of the tomatoes, shallots, carrots, mushrooms and ham or chorizo in the bottom of a lidded casserole dish that's just big enough to hold the chicken thighs in a single layer. Crush two of the garlic cloves and add to the casserole together with a generous amount of salt and pepper. If you're using ham rather than chorizo, then sprinkle over 1 teaspoon of paprika.

Place the browned chicken thighs on top of the veg and ham layer. Cover the chicken with the remaining tomatoes, shallots, carrots, mushrooms, ham or chorizo and crushed garlic. Add more salt and pepper and sprinkle over another teaspoon of paprika if you're using it.

Stir together the white wine, port, brandy and mustard. Pour into the casserole and sprinkle a little olive oil over the surface. Cover the casserole tightly and place in the oven for 1 hour.

After an hour, remove the lid and continue cooking for 30 minutes.  Don't worry if some of the top layer of veg looks a little scorched because I'm “reliably” informed that's the way it should be and that's fine by me.


Comments

  1. This sounds so good. Love having new chicken recipes!

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    Replies
    1. I'm always happy to discover new ways of cooking chicken, especially since it's become such a common ingredient in everyday meals. This recipe is definitely a little different.

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  2. I can just imagine how tasty this would be! Very often the crozzled bits are the best bits of any dish!
    It sounds like this is exactly what we need for the very unseasonal cool weather. We are still shunning the new potatoes in favour of buttery mash so that's definitely what we would serve with it.

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    Replies
    1. In this very late spring that we're having I really have to admit that a warming mash sounds very inviting. But I have come across some very fine quality Jersey Royals in the last week or so and I might just go with those while they're still in season. They'd both work well with this dish, although maybe not at the same time.

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  3. Phil, this looks and sounds really good, so I don't care if it's strictly authentic or not. Vasco da Gama / Sgt Pepper? Close enough! Oh, and I'll go with the other Jean's buttery mash with this dish.

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    Replies
    1. You're right, Sgt Pepper feels like ancient history to me. Buttery mash would be very, very welcome with this, although, now that the weather is much warmer, I wouldn't say no to to a good sourdough baguette alongside this.

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