My favorite chicken part is the leg-thigh quarter. I’ve given you several recipes for it in the past. There are several advantages over the more popular breast, in my opinion. First is flavor. Not only does the meat itself have more flavor, but since it needs to be cooked a little longer, any sauce, rub, herb or other seasoning has a chance to penetrate the flesh.
Another advantage to this particular recipe is that it needs very little attention once it has been popped into the oven, making it a great dish for a company dinner.
As I did with earlier recipes, I put some flavorings under the skin. You may not be a skin-eater, but I always encourage cooking any chicken part with the skin on. It retains moisture, and can always be peeled off after cooking.
This recipe is very Spanish in its flavors. Be sure to use the Spanish smoked paprika called pimentòn. It’s available in some supermarkets, specialty markets or at Penzey’s. This adobo marinade is also wonderful on pork or full flavored seafood.
Spanish-style chorizo is a dry sausage, like a salami. The fresh (raw) Mexican-style chorizo won’t work in this. I used the chorizo from a package of sliced Spanish-style deli meats from Fresh Market. It also includes jamon serrano (a prosciutto-like ham) and salchichon. I'll use the jamon and salchichon for sandwiches sometime in the next few days. If you can’t find the Spanish selection package, use sopressata or other Italian salami.
I used a combination of yellow and red grape tomatoes because I like the contrast and slight difference in flavor. If you’d rather just use one full container of the red ones, the dish will still be delicious.
Spanish Chicken in Adobo
1 tbsp. kosher or sea salt
3 tbsp. Italian (flat) parsley leaves
1 ½ tbsp. Spanish smoked paprika
1 tsp. dried oregano, crumbled
1/3 cup olive oil
6 chicken leg quarters
6 thin slices Spanish chorizo or other salami
6 thin slices Swiss cheese
2 tbsp. olive oil
3 cloves garlic, thinly sliced
1 cup minced onion
¾ cup dry white wine
2 15-oz. cans chickpeas, drained
½ container yellow grape tomatoes
½ container red grape tomatoes
1 bag baby arugula
Place all marinade ingredients except the olive oil in a food processor and pulse to chop finely. Drizzle in the olive oil and pulse a few more times. Remove 3 tablespoons of the mixture and reserve.
Loosen the chicken skin on each piece and place one each of cheese and chorizo underneath, with the cheese closer to the flesh. Place about a tablespoon of the adobo under the skin and spread it all around. Use the rest of the mixture to rub all over the outside surface of the chicken and place in an oiled baking pan. Cover and reserve at room temperature for up to an hour. You may also do this in the morning and refrigerate, taking it out of the fridge about an hour before baking.
In a heavy skillet heat the 2 tablespoons of olive oil over medium heat. Add the garlic and stir a couple of times. Add the onion and cook until the onion is soft but not at all browned. Add the reserved adobo marinade and cook, stirring, a couple of minutes. Add the wine and chickpeas and simmer until the wine is reduced by about a third. Turn off the heat and stir in the tomatoes.
Preheat the oven to 400o. Place the prepared chicken in the oven and roast for 15 minutes, then reduce the heat to 375o. Continue to roast for another 30 minutes, then pour the chickpea mixture into the pan, scraping any bits that might cling to the pan. Spread the chickpeas around the chicken, shake the pan a couple of times and continue to roast for another 15 minutes.
To serve, place a handful of arugula on each plate. Top with the chicken, then ladle the chickpea mixture with their juices over the top. Serve at once with crusty bread to soak up the sauce. Serves six.