Chicken Basquaise

French Entree

CHICKEN BASQUAISE

INGREDIENTS

1 green bell pepper
1 red bell pepper
1 large onion
2 garlic cloves
2 tablespoons fresh thyme
3 tomatoes
2 pounds chicken pieces, bone in or boneless
1 teaspoon salt or fleur de sel*
¼ cup olive oil
3 ounces thinly sliced prosciutto or Bayonne ham*
¾ cup white wine
1 bay leaf
1 cup chicken stock
2 teaspoon Spanish paprika, paprika, or espelette*
1 tablespoon fresh parsley

* = You can find fleur de sel, Bayonne ham, and espelette online, but they can be expensive.

SPECIAL UTENSILS

mandoline
8″ * 12″ casserole dish

Serves 6. Takes 1 hour 15 minutes.

PREPARATION

Preheat oven to 425 degrees. Seed bell peppers. Cut bell peppers and onion into ¼” slices with mandoline or knife. Cut slices in half. Dice garlic and thyme. Cut tomatoes into ½” wedges. If you are using chicken breasts, cut them in two. Rub chicken pieces with salt.

Add olive oil and prosciutto to large pan. Sauté for 2 minutes at high heat or until prosciutto becomes crispy. Stir frequently. Remove and drain on paper towels. Add chicken pieces to large pan. Sauté for 10 minutes at medium heat or until chicken turns golden brown. Flip chicken pieces every 2 minutes. Remove chicken and drain on paper towels. Add bell pepper, garlic, and onion. Sauté for 2 minutes at medium-high heat. Stir frequently. Add white wine and bay leaf. Simmer at low heat for 2 minutes. Stir frequently.

Add contents of pan, thyme, chicken stock, and chicken pieces to casserole dish. Sprinkle chicken pieces with Spanish paprika. Place tomato wedges between chicken pieces. Bake for 20 minutes at 425 degrees or until sauces thickens. While chicken bakes, dice parsley. Remove casserole dish from oven. Remove bay leaf. Place crispy prosciutto slice over chicken. Garnish with parsley.

TIDBITS

1) It is well known fact that the Basque word for basket is saskia

2) The Franks who overran Gaul, modern day France, after the fall of the Western Roman Empire loved peaches.

3) Indeed, they invaded purposefully to pick prized perfect peaches produced by the innumerable peaches orchards to be found there.

4) At first, frenetic fresh Franks gathered peaches with their hands.

5) But one can only carry off two peaches that way.

6) The ravenous ravagers ranged right to the Rhone valley. The Rhone Valley had for reasons unclear to current culinary historians had a surplus of over a million peach baskets.

7) An advance party of Franks plundered the valley and carried off all the peach baskets. Indeed, everyone of the frightening Franks walked away with maybe twelve baskets; we don’t know the exact number.

8) The First Franks never went anywhere without their baskets. The enraged basketless Second Franks chased them to southwest France.

9) The locals called them Saskia after the First Franks word for basket.

10) In time the Saskia lost their original language. A new language required a new name. The medieval French dubbed these people, Basques.

11) The Basques loved sports. In particular, they loved to play Basquaise Boule. The object of this game was to pass a ball around and try to toss it into a peach basket. Sometimes the players fashioned the ball out of chicken breasts, hence the name Chicken Basquaise. Chef Jean Paul La Grange created this dish to honor the new sport.

12) But wait! There’s more! In 1890, YMCA director James Naismith toured the land of the Basques. His synapses fired and he determined bring this sport back home. It’d be just the thing to tire out restless school kids. The game proved popular, at first, in his town of Springfield. But the kids eventually grew bored of having to climb up a ladder to retrieve the ball from the peach basket. Late one night, a gang of hoodlums calling themselves The Epic of Gilgamesh Haters cut the bottom off all the baskets.

13) But far from ruining the game, this vandalism, made the game much faster. Indeed the tempo of pass, shoot, score, pass, shoot, score now prevailed. The kids loved the game now. So did their parents. A year later, a senior taking Basque studies opined that as we’re living in America, why not call the name something American like basketball.

14) America embraced basketball and soon became a superpower. Now you know how.

 

– Paul De Lancey, The Comic Chef, Ph.D.

My cookbook, Following Good Food Around the World, with its 180 wonderful recipes, my newest novel, Do Lutheran Hunks Eat Mushrooms, a hilarious apocalyptic thriller, and all my other books, are available on amazon.com.

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Categories: cuisine, history, international | Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | 2 Comments

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2 thoughts on “Chicken Basquaise

  1. italiadiva

    Wow! I didn’t know that!

    Liked by 1 person

    • So much has happened in the world that the history books are forced to leave something out or they’d be thousands of pages long. Alas, the Basquaise story usually gets left out.

      Like

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