Working my way through the Moro Cookbook I came across a recipe for pollo al ajillo, a favourite from my six month stay in Northern Spain, a now scary number of years ago when I was at University. It’s such a simple and amazingly tasty dish – I don’t understand why I haven’t been cooking it regularly ever since I first tasted it. I’m going to rectify that by adding it to our list of trusty quick weeknight suppers. Note to self: check if either of us has a meeting the next day before freely adding to the pan the bulb (not clove!) or two of garlic the recipe calls for!
Pollo al ajillo is a classic Spanish way of cooking chicken pieces. It uses very few ingredients – chicken, garlic, bay leaves, olive oil, white wine, water, salt and pepper. The trick is to emulsify the chicken juices, wine, water and olive oil to create a silky sauce.
And to go with the chicken – to be honest some crusty bread or roast potatoes along with a little green salad would be perfect – I chose another classic dish, moros y cristianos. Moros y cristianos is often served on its own when being frugal but works equally well as an accompaniment to chicken, duck and other meats as well as fish.
Translated to English, the name is Moors and Christians. This rice and bean dish originates from the time when the Moors occupied the Iberian Peninsula. The black beans represent the Moors and the white rice represents the Christians. It’s still a popular dish today. There are many variations of this recipe, some with a Cuban spicy twist, others, like the one in the Moro cookbook, quite simply flavoured with cinnamon, garlic, onion and bay.