Chicken wings went into my pollo aj ajillo because that was what I had. You can use drumsticks or thighs, or even a whole chicken chopped through the bone into serving pieces.
Whichever cut you choose, season well with salt and pepper, and make sure to really work the seasonings into the meat. Then toss the chicken in flour, shaking off any excess and lightly fry in olive oil. If you’re wondering if flouring is necessary, it is that flour coating the chicken that will thicken the sauce later.
The spice base is a combination of garlic, thyme and bay leaves. Saute until aromatic and the garlic is starting to brown around the edges. Do not hurry up this process to really draw out the flavors and aroma of the three ingredients.
After sauteeing the garlic, thyme and bay leaves sufficiently, pour in white wine. Leave to boil until reduced. Reducing removes the strong alcoholic smell and flavor of the wine leaving only the richness that will become part of the lovely sauce.
Once the wine has reduced, pour in chicken broth. Take your lightly fried chicken and spread in the pan. Ideally, in one layer so that each piece is touching the liquid.
Braise the chicken until cooked through and the cooking liquid has reduced and thickened. Drizzle in the lemon juice and shake the pan repeatedly. Do not be tempted to stir because the chicken is already very tender at this point and you don’t want them to break into pieces.
Transfer you pollo al ajillo to a serving bowl or plate, or individual plates or bowls, and make sure to drizzle all the pan juices over the chicken pieces.
Spanish garlic chicken (pollo al ajillo)
- 1 kilogram chicken bone-in and cut into serving-size pieces
- 1 whole head garlic
- ¼ cup all-purpose flour
- ½ cup olive oil
- ½ teaspoon dried thyme or about two sprigs fresh thyme
- 2 bay leaves
- 1 cup sweet white wine
- 1 cup chicken bone broth
- 2 tablespoons lemon juice
- finely chopped lemon zest (optional)
- Pat the chicken dry with paper towels and place in a bowl.
- Sprinkle with a tablespoon of salt and a quarter teaspoon of pepper.
- Mix well working the salt and pepper into the meat.
- Cover the bowl and set aside.
- Peel the garlic and thinly slice each clove.
- Add the flour to the chicken, cover the bowl and shake well to coat each piece of chicken lightly with flour.
- Heat the olive oil in a wide shallow pan.
- Lightly brown the chicken pieces, turning them around in the oil for even coloring. You are not cooking the chicken through at this point but merely searing them.
- Once very lightly browned, scoop out and set aside.
- Pour off the oil leaving only about two tablespoonfuls.
- Reheat the oil and saute the garlic, thyme and bay leaves until the garlic slices start to brown.
- Pour in the wine. Allow to boil, uncovered, until the liquid is reduced to half.
- Pour in the chicken broth.
- Add the browned chicken. Cover the pan, lower the heat and braise the chicken for about 20 minutes. During this time, the flour coating the chicken will thicken the sauce as it reduces.
- Drizzle the lemon juice over the chicken and shake the pan gently to blend.
- Taste the sauce, add more salt and pepper, if needed.
- Cover the pan once more and simmer for another five minutes.
- Arrange the chicken pieces on a platter or in a shallow bowl.
- Pour the sauce (with all the garlic) over and around them.
- Sprinkle with mint leaves and lemon zest.
- Serve the pollo aj ajillo with rice or crusty bread.