Kind of Bourride of Chicken and Squid

Many years ago a friend of mine gave me a cookbook called Cooking at the Merchant House. At the time, it was too sophisticated for my level of cooking, and frankly required ingredients beyond my budget (ah the joys of student life). However, I recently rediscovered this cookbook and the wonderful recipes it contains. One of the first recipes I tried was for a Bourride of Chicken. Not something I’d ever eaten before, let alone tried to cook. It is fully acknowledged in the cookbook that this is a quick version of a more involved traditional recipe. I made a few adaptations as I went along on the basis of learning from other recipes and was quite happy with the resulting meal. Still, I had some ideas about variations that could enhance the final product. This is the recipe I came up with.

Ingredients
500g of chicken thighs and legs
1 red pepper
1/2 a red chilli, deseeded
1 shallot, peeled
350-400g of new potatoes (peeling optional)
1 heaped teaspoon of saffron
1 pinch of cumin
6 cloves of garlic
1 teaspoon of dijon mustard
1 tablespoon of white wine vinegar
2 egg yolks
50ml of olive oil
50ml of sunflower oil
Salt, pepper and paprika to taste
1 chicken breasts, diced
2-3 small squid (enough to be 1:1 with the chicken), sliced
2 leeks, chunkily sliced.
1 bulb of fennel, sliced

Method
1. Roughly chop half of the red pepper and fry with the chicken thighs and drumsticks and the shallot in a large saucepan until all elements are lightly browned.

2. Add the potato, saffron and cumin, then add enough water to cover all ingredients. Bring to the boil, reduce heat and cover and allow to simmer until chicken and potatoes are cooked through. This should take about half an hour, but do check and allow to cook longer if needed.

3. Meanwhile, make the aïoli that will flavour the base of the sauce. Crush the garlic and whisk into the mustard, vinegar, and egg yolks. Gradually whisk in the oil, adding a few drops at a time. Don’t rush this, it needs to be done slowly for the consistency to be right.

4. When the chicken and potatoes are cooked remove these elements from the pot. Bring to the boil and reduce the remaining liquid by about a quarter.

5. Remove meat from bones. Return the flesh to the pot and blend all ingredients until smooth. Gradually blend in the aïoli, adding and blending a little bit at a time to avoid cooking the egg before it’s integrated into the sauce. Season to taste and keep warm. As there’s no stock in this dish you are likely to need a good helping of salt to make sure there is sufficient depth of flavour.

6. Slice the remaining half of red pepper. Pan fry with chicken, fennel, leeks and squid. It may be easier to fry each component separately as cooking times vary considerably for the different ingredients.

7. Either throw pan fried ingredients in a pot and mix or if you want it to look pretty, pour some sauce on plates and arrange the other ingredients attractively on top.

As you can see, I went for the mix in the pot approach. If the potatoes are peeled they will turn a gorgeous golden colour as they cook in the saffron. However, there’s a lot of nutrition in potato skin, so it’s up to you what’s more important.

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Meson de la Abuela

After a lovely morning spent wandering the streets of Granada savouring the delights of the winding little alleys I headed back to Calle Navas for lunch. I felt a pang of discomfort doing this because I felt that I should be exploring eateries in other parts of the city. However, it was close to where I ended up and quite frankly at that point I was so hungry that sustenance was more important than diversity of experience.

Still, I committed myself to dining at a different restaurant. A careful process of elimination led me to Meson de la Abuela. It had a good range of half racciones available, as well as free tapas with drinks. Unfortunately there were no tables available so I ended up eating tapas at the bar. There were no seats there either, but I felt that standing at the bar eating tapas was inkeeping with Spanish culture so wasn’t at all phased.

Despite my hunger I took a leisurely approach to my meal. Given that most attractions close for lunch until 4pm, spending the intervening hours eating drinking and reading seemed an excellent use of my time. I selected a glass of red wine, 2008 lorinon crianza, and was served an accompanying portion of paella and fresh bread. It was a surprisingly nice paella given that it was free. So good that I would have happily paid for it, especially given that it was even better than the paella I’d sampled in Madrid. While the tapa was small, it was enough to satiate my appetite to a certain extent. In no rush to leave I took the time to assess my appetite and decide whether I really needed more to eat.

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Finally I realised that the answer was “yes”. I tried to order the pintillos, which I believe are baby squid. Unfortunately they weren’t available. Then I tried to order the prawns and found that they were unavailable as well. On the verge of finishing my wine and leaving to find somewhere else to eat I saw a waiter walk past with a full portion of the fritura de pescado, the seafood platter. Yes, it was all battered and deep fried, but it looked fantastic! I checked the menu and joyously I found I could order a half raccione. Thank goodness because this was the mountain of heaven that was presented to me.

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The platter consisted of:
• Dog fish
• Whitebait
• Anchovies
• Prawns
• Calamari
• Pintillos

Ok it’s strange that I’d been unable to order pintillos or prawns as a meal yet here they were on my platter. However, this feast was so delicious that I am prepared to forgive this inconsistency that led to my first two orders being denied.

The prawns were small but full of flavour. It was almost like they had been shrunk through a process dehydration to increase the intensity of the taste. While the flavour of the anchovies was distinct and intense it was not overwhelming or excessively salty. Clearly they were fresh fillets. It was all so perfectly cooked to the right texture. Surprisingly, even though I am a huge fan of squid, it was the dog fish that was the star of the meal. I’d never previously experienced this form of seafood- it’s actually a form of shark- but would definitely order it again. It had this silky soft melt-in-your-mouth texture. Given the delicacy of the flesh. It had a surprising richness and almost sweet undertones. It was delicious! I could have eaten a whole plate of the dog fish alone!

It was way too much food for one person, particularly following on from my paella tapa. I didn’t care. I ate it all, and enjoyed every second of this culinary indulgence.

And then I went and spent an hour at the free outdoor gym I’d fortuitously discovered that morning.