Spanish chicken with garlic & fresh bay leaves

This is a really simple braise that works well with duck or diced lamb - just add olives at the end and serve with good crusty bread.


  • 2 free-range chicken breasts, wing bone attached, and skin on
  • 2 free-range chicken legs
  • Sea salt
  • 4 tbsp extra virgin olive oil
  • 2 whole garlic bulbs, skin on, cloves separated
  • 6 fresh bay leaves
  • 3/4 cup fino sherry


Cut breast pieces in half. Take the legs and cut the drumstick from the thighs at the joints. Season chicken with salt.

Heat the oil in a deep, heavy-based saucepan that has a tight-fitting lid. Fry the garlic cloves (with skins on) over a medium heat until lightly golden, remove and set aside. Add the chicken in batches and fry until golden brown on all sides, about 5 minutes per batch. Pour off any excess fat rendered from the chicken.

Return the garlic to the saucepan along with the bay leaves, and pour in the sherry, shaking the pan to help the wine emulsify with the oil. Simmer for two minutes while turning the chicken in the sauce.

Add ½ cup water, place on lid and simmer for four minutes. The leg pieces will take longer to cook, so remove the breast pieces once cooked and set aside. Continue to cook the remaining chicken until ready, adding more water to the sauce if needed. Add all the chicken and warm through. Check seasoning.

NOTES: Want something to drink?

The 2013 Pazos de Lusco 'Zios' Albariño, made in tiny quantities in Rias Baixas in the north of Spain, works perfectly with the chicken. It has a riesling-like purity and freshness, with notes of citrus blossom that work well with the pungent aroma of the bay leaves and garlic driving this dish.

First published in the Good Weekend.

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  • Serves

    Makes about 18 meatballs

  • Serves 10-12
  • 1 hour 20 minutes