Basque Chicken à la Delia à la Jessica

By Jessica – May 3rd, 2011

At the risk of having to rename this blog “Principia Smoked Paprika,” I am featuring yet another recipe with that tasty, toasty spice. I’ve come to believe there’s almost nothing that can’t be improved with the addition of smoked paprika or pimentón, and this version of Basque chicken is proof of it.

365.349: Basque chickenThis dish started life as a Delia Smith recipe, and it hasn’t strayed too terribly far from its origins. It’s just that as I cooked it for the first time—following Delia’s recipe to the letter—I found myself wondering “Why?” a whole lot. Why not cook the chorizo first and then take advantage of the flavorful fat to cook the chicken? Why use sun-dried tomato paste and sun-dried tomatoes? Why not reduce the wine, and actually, why use wine at all instead of sherry, which would add a richer, “meatier” flavor? And finally: why use regular paprika instead of smoked?

I couldn’t come up with any plausible answers to these questions, so as I’ve made and re-made this one-pot meal over the past year, I’ve adapted it to fit my tastes and my cooking style. I think the version I’ve come up with is not only (ahem) tastier and more straightforward to cook, it’s also just different enough from Delia’s to warrant its own entry here. So without further ado: Chicken Basque a la Delia a la Jessica.

For two individuals endowed with very hearty appetites, you’ll need:

Preheat the oven to 180C/350F.

Peppers and onionsHeat a splash of olive oil over medium heat in a heavy, lidded casserole pot that you can put in the oven. Saute the chorizo until it starts to brown and release its fatty juices. Take out the chorizo and set it aside, then season your chicken with salt and pepper and brown it in the chorizo fat for a few minutes on each side. Take the chicken out and set it aside too.

Nudge the heat up to medium-high and toss the sliced pepper and onion into the casserole. Fry the veggies for about 5 to 10 minutes until they’re really fragrant and starting to get brown. Add the garlic, then the sun-dried tomatoes, olives and tomato paste and stir this around for a minute or two.

Saucy veggiesTip in the rice and smoked paprika. Stir the rice to coat it with the spices and oil, then douse it with the sherry and reduce the liquid for a few minutes. Finally, add the thyme, the reserved chorizo and the stock and bring the liquid to a simmer. Season with salt and pepper if necessary, then turn off the heat.

Nestle the chicken and orange wedges into the rice and veggies and give the exposed chicken skin another sprinkling of salt and pepper. Put the cover on the casserole, put the casserole in the oven, and sit down with a nice glass of white wine.

Chicken and orangesAfter about 35 minutes, check to see if your rice is tender. If it isn’t, let it cook for a while longer, covered. If it is, you can take the lid off the casserole and cook everything uncovered for a few minutes to brown up the chicken.

Serve the chicken alongside the rice and the soft cooked orange wedges. This is a true one-pot meal, but if you don’t mind dirtying up a few more dishes, the chicken and rice goes really well with a big green salad dressed with an orange/sherry vinaigrette.

* Delia inexplicably says to measure the rice in a glass measuring jug. If you want to do that, measure out 4 fluid ounces or about 110 ml; if you’ve got American measuring cups, you’ll need 1/2 to 3/4 of a cup. I like a mix of brown and white basmati, but you can use all brown or all white as you like—just remember that you may need to adjust the cooking time and amount of liquid depending on what you use.


That meal looks delicious! I love the modifications you made to Delia’s recipe. I agree with you that smoked paprika makes everything better. I cannot wait to try this recipe for myself.

# Posted by Barbra T on

So how much stock should I use? Your cup sizes are inconsistent with the mL one. Or are you using cups that aren’t +-250 mL

# Posted by Somethingsin on

Somethingsin: You’re right, that should be 240ml. I’ve fixed the typo in the recipe. Thanks for pointing it out.

# Posted by Jessica on

I love your blog, I’m not a great cook nor do I enjoy spending too much time in the kitchen, but since discovering this blog, I have felt inspired and tried quite a few recipes - thank you!


Needless to say this would be excellent if you would exchange lamb meat instead of chicken. I simply love the whole idea.

# Posted by alfred on

Can I make this recipe in advance and then put it in to cook as my guests arrive - it makes life so much easier when you can do this, but i didn’t know if it would affect the rice to be left in liquid before cooking?

# Posted by Sonia on

Recently attempted this recipe for a dinner party and it was excellent, although my oven must be a bit slower as it took twice as long to cook but was loved by all.

# Posted by Smarge on

In answer to Sonia’s post I cook this recipe (well, my version anyway) often. If you cook it as per the recipe it will stand up to being re-heated and if by chance it catches on the bottom of the pan then you will have achieved socorrat which is the caramelized crust you get at the base of a great paella. More about socorrat can be found here:

I never re-heat this dish: it’s delicious cold the next day (call it Chicken Basque Salad if you like!) about the measurement of liquid v rice, Delia has this foolproof method: twice the volume of liquid as rice. It works every time. That’s why she measures both in the same way.

# Posted by mosf on

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