A queen’s favorite dish, Pollo en Pepitoria!

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My food memories this weekend take me back to one of my favourite regions in Spain, Andalusia. If there’s a dish that represents a city well than Seville’s Pollo en Pepitoria is one of them. Pepitoria is a sauce technique introduced by the Arabs to the south of Spain. It combines crushed almonds, hard boiled egg yolks and saffron as a means of thickening a sauce and adding colour.

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I think Seville’s uplifting colours from the sky, passing horse carriages and orange trees may have been an inspiration for this dish too. Such bright cheerful colours are a perfect back drop for this dish that’s normally served with crusty bread to scoop the generous silky sauce.

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Don’t expect to find this dish in a restaurant as it’s one that’s left up to the households to keep the tradition going. Locals are quite passionate about this dish and it is said to have been a favourite dish of Spanish Queen,  Isabel II.

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For me the fun part of this dish is toasting the almonds and placing them in a mortar where you can test your biceps with the pestle! You need to pound the almonds until they start to look more like breadcrumbs. You can then add your hard boiled egg yolks, salt and pound to a paste, the Spanish call this the majada. For a matching wine, this dish is perfect with a Spanish Monastrell or Garnacha. Now drink up and be merry with this delicious  dish fit for a queen!

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Recipe (serves 4)

  • 1 litre of water
  • 1 whole free range chicken cut into 12 pieces
  • 150g of jam on serrano, chopped
  • 4 garlic cloves
  • 15 black peppercorns
  • a generous pinch of saffron threads
  • a few parsley stalks, tied
  • 1 tbsp of sea salt
  • 120g of blanched almonds
  • 4 hard-boiled egg yolks
  • juice of 1 lemon

Tips

Pour the water into a heavy based pot, bring it to the boil. Add chicken, jamon, garlic, peppercorns, saffron and parsley stalks. Season with salt and reduce the heat to a simmer and cook for 1 hour. Then add your majada and lemon juice. Make sure to taste the broth, season it more if required and serve while its hot. One other tip is  make sure to toast your saffron to release the oils and flavour. You can add part of your  saffron to the majada.

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