Chicken Ajíllo, El Charro (Chicken with Garlic and White Wine)

 

Makes 6 1st course servings (2-3 main course)

 

This dish is SO delicious - and it's easy enough to make for an everyday dinner. It's one of the house specials at my favorite New York restaurant, "El Charro." My friend Manuel Vidal, the owner of El Charro, not only gave me this recipe, we made it together at El Charro one blustery Saturday. You can enjoy it with your friends at home, too!

 

Ingredients:

 

1 3 to 3 1/2 pound chicken cut into 16 pieces

3 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil

2 heads garlic (Use all the cloves, peeled but whole)

1 cup dry white wine

Sea salt and freshly ground black pepper to taste

 

Preparation:

 

Rinse the chicken in cold running water and thoroughly dry it with paper towels. Using a meat cleaver or poultry shears, cut the chicken into 16 pieces.

 

Make a mixture of sea or kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper in a small bowl. Sprinkle this mixture generously over the chicken pieces.

 

Warm a large sauté pan over medium-high heat and put in the olive oil. When the oil is hot but not smoking, add the chicken pieces and brown well on all sides.

 

(You want to make sure the oil is hot enough that the chicken pieces will make a sizzling sound as you put them into the pan. This ensures that the chicken will sear immediately and the juices will stay inside!)

 

After you have turned over all the chicken to brown on the other side, add the garlic and turn the temperature down low to let it sauté for a few minutes.

 

Make sure the garlic does not get brown at all.

 

Add the wine. Bring the mixture to the boil. Reduce the heat -- to medium, not too low -- and let simmer until the wine has almost evaporated, and has made a caramel-like sauce in the pan.

 

Serve with Saffron Rice or homemade Potato Chips.

 

Wine Tip: A Spanish Rioja or American Zinfandel (red) complements this dish wonderfully.