This chicken recipe is a simplified version of Poulet Basquaise, a dish that originates from the Basque region of France. For the traditional version, chicken is braised in a “pipérade,” a mixture of sweet bell peppers, onions and tomatoes flavored with bay leaf, thyme and a mildly spicy French paprika called Piment d’Espelette (read about this in our recipe notes). Our version is made with boneless chicken breasts, which cuts down on the cooking time so you can enjoy the wonderful flavors of this dish even if you don’t have time for a slow-braising.
- 4 boneless, skinless chicken breast halves (about 1-1-/2 lbs)
- 1/2 cup flour
- Salt and freshly ground black pepper
- 1-1/2 to 2 teaspoons Espelette pepper, divided (see notes for substitutions)
- 1 tablespoon butter
- 3 tablespoons olive oil, divided
- 1/2 cup onion, chopped
- 3 cloves garlic, very finely chopped
- 1 medium green bell pepper, cored, seeded and cut into 1/4-inch strips
- 1 medium red bell pepper, cored, seeded and cut into 1/4-inch strips
- 1 medium yellow (or orange) bell pepper, cored, seeded and cut into 1/4-inch strips
- 1 cup diced tomatoes, undrained
- 1/2 cup low-sodium chicken broth, divided
- 1 bay leaf
- 2 sprigs fresh thyme
- Place the chicken breasts between two sheets of plastic wrap and gently pound them to an even thickness of 1/2-inch.
- Combine the flour, 1 teaspoon salt, a few grinds of black pepper and 1/2 teaspoon of the Espelette pepper on a plate or sheet of wax paper.
- Heat the butter along with 1 tablespoon of the olive oil in a large skillet over medium-high heat. Dredge each piece of chicken in the seasoned flour, shake off the excess and add the chicken to the pan.
- Cook the chicken until pale golden in color, 1-1/2 minutes per side. Transfer to a plate and set aside.
- Add the remaining olive oil to the pan and reduce the heat to medium. Add the onion and sauté until soft and translucent, 3 to 4 minutes. Add the garlic and sauté until fragrant, 1 to 2 minutes longer (do not brown).
- Add the peppers and continue cooking until crisp-tender, 3 to 4 minutes, stirring frequently. Add 1 teaspoon of the Espelette pepper, season to taste with salt and pepper, then stir in the tomatoes and 1/4 cup of the chicken broth.
- Add the bay leaf and fresh thyme, cover the pan and cook, stirring occasionally, until the peppers are very tender, 5 to 7 minutes. Check the seasoning and add more Espelette pepper if desired.
- Stir in the remaining chicken broth and return the chicken to the pan, nestling each piece into the pepper mixture. Cover and cook until the chicken is done, 3 to 4 minutes, turning once. Discard the bay leaf and thyme.
- To serve, arrange a bed of peppers and a serving of steamed rice on each plate and top with a piece of chicken.
About Espelette pepper (Piment d'Espelette):
Similar to paprika, Piment d'Espelette has a rich, sweet red pepper flavor and a mild, pleasant heat. Regulated by the French government, the peppers that make this delicious spice are grown in a small area in the Basque region of France. We highly recommend keeping some on hand, but you can successfully substitute sweet paprika (use about 1/2 the quantity) combined with a pinch of cayenne in this dish.
If you can't find Piment d'Espelette locally, you'll probably need to order from Amazon (see below) or a specialty retailer like Gourmet Delights.