Jeff Koehler, a proud Barcelona resident for over 15 years, offers "an expert guide" to the intriguing and sophisticated flavors of Spanish cuisine in his cookbook, Spain: Recipes and Traditions from the Verdant Hills of the Basque Country to the Coastal Waters of Andalucía. Koehler tells a well-informed story of the country itself through his collection of 200 recipes, highlighting the most essential ingredients along with their cultural significance. This recipe for Chicken with Shallots and Orange and Cinnamon Sauce is a great introduction to the combination of sweet and savory so prominent in Valencia.

Chicken with Shallots and Orange and Cinnamon Sauce

The central market in Valencia is one of the most spectacular in the country, with soaring cupolas, ceilings that reach 100 feet/30 m, and ample windows that infuse it with Mediterranean light. And that is only the architecture! Nearly 1,000 food stalls offer the spectacular makings of Valencia's rather baroque cuisine. The city was under Muslim rule for five centuries (until 1238), and that legacy can clearly be tasted. One prominent influence is the frequent combination of sweet and savory. This chicken dish is one such example, and is adapted from a small book that the stall holders put together a few years ago.

Serves 4

  • 3 POUNDS/1.4 KG FREE-RANGE CHICKEN DRUMSTICKS AND THIGHS
  • SALT
  • GROUND WHITE PEPPER
  • 18 WHOLE SHALLOTS
  • ¼ CUP/60 ML EXTRA-VIRGIN OLIVE OIL
  • 1 TEASPOON ALL-PURPOSE FLOUR, PLUS MORE FOR DREDGING
  • GENEROUS 1 CUP FRESH VALENCIA ORANGE JUICE
  • 1 CINNAMON STICK, BROKEN IN HALF

1. Remove the skin and trim the excess fat from the chicken. Rinse and pat dry. Season with salt and white pepper.

2. Peel the shallots. Finely chop two of them and set aside.

3. Preheat the oven to 375°F/190°C/gas mark 5.

4. In a cazuela, heavy casserole, large saute pan or deep skillet, heat the olive oil over medium heat. Lightly dredge the chicken in flour and brown in single-layer batches that don’t crowd the pan, about 5 minutes per batch. Transfer to a platter.

5. Add the whole shallots to the cazuela and cook until golden, 2 to 3 minutes, and then transfer with a slotted spoon to the platter with the chicken. Add the chopped shallots and cook until tender and golden, about 2 minutes. Stir in the 1 teaspoon flour and then add the orange juice and cinnamon stick. Bring to a boil and boil for 2 minutes, stirring continually. Remove the pan from the heat.

6. In a large baking dish or roasting pan, arrange the chicken without overlapping the pieces, scatter around the whole shallots and pour over the sauce. Loosely cover with aluminum foil and bake for 30 minutes, or until the chicken is done and just starting to separate from the bone.

7. Spoon the sauce into a saucepan and reduce by about ¼ over high heat into a thickish glaze, about 3 minutes. To serve, place a drumstick and a thigh with some whole shallots on each plate and ladle over some sauce.

Spain: Recipes and Traditions from the Verdant Hills of the Basque Country to the Coastal Waters of Andalucía, 2013, Chronicle Books. Read our review of this book.

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