Pastitsada is a speciality from the island of Corfu for Sunday’s family meal. It is usually made out of rooster, can even be prepared with veal. However, if these meat aren’t to someone’s flavour, it may easily be produced with any meat or chicken which is also delicious and we discover that children usually like it this way.
- 1 whole large poultry slice into pieces
- 3 onions, trim into slices
- 3 garlic cloves, minced
- 1 can sliced tomatoes
- 2 tablespoons tomato paste
- 1 tablespoon granulated sugar
- 500 ml burgundy or merlot wine
- 4 tablespoons all-purpose flour
- 2 cinnamon sticks, whole
- 6 cloves, whole
- 6 pieces all-spice
- 2 bay leaves
- 1 poultry bouillon cube
- 1 package bucatini pasta spaghetti-like pasta with an opening in middle.
- olive oil
- grated gruyere parmesan cheese, to serve
This dish is called “Pastitsada” and is one of Corfu’s more characteristic recipes. They sell the special spice mixture needed to create this dish in pharmacies in town – like Carmela’s Pharmacy in city center Saroko square.
Of course each housewife has her own secret ingredients. You can try adding some ground cumin seeds and even some curry powder, which was brought to the island by British sea men while the island was under siege by England.
- The chicken should be prepared the 1 day ahead so it can marinate overnight.
- Place the chicken in a bowl. Add 1 cinnamon stick, 3 cloves and 3 pieces of all-spice.
- Pour in enough wine to cover the chicken. Allow it to marinate overnight.
- The following day, drain the chicken and reserve the wine in a separate bowl. Discard the spices.
- In a large bowl, combine 4-5 tablespoons of flour, 1 teaspoon of salt and freshly ground pepper. Dry off the chicken from the wine with paper towels. It needs to be as dry as possible so it can brown nicely and not soak too much of the flour.
- Add the pieces of chicken to the bowl in batches. Shake bowl to coat. Transfer to a large sieve. Shake to remove excess flour. Make sure the pieces of chicken are completely coated.
- Place a large, deep pan over high heat. When it gets very hot, add the oil. Add the chicken in batches and brown nicely on all sides.
- When ready, remove from pan and keep warm in a plate.
- In the same pan, add some olive oil and sauté the onions and garlic. When softened and golden, add the tomato paste and sauté for another minute while stirring with a wooden spoon.
- Add the wine. Allow it to reduce and add the can of chopped tomatoes. Add the chicken and add enough water to cover the pieces halfway, if necessary. Add 1 cinnamon stick, 3 cloves and 3 pieces of all-spice, bay leaf and bouillon cube.
- Cover and bring to a boil. When it does, lower heat and allow it to simmer for 1 hour or until the chicken is cooked through and the sauce has thickened a bit.
- Since the chicken was coated in flour, the sauce might need to be stirred every now and then so that it doesn’t stick to the bottom of the pot. Make sure it is not cooking over high heat.
- Boil the pasta in another pot. They will be easier to eat if you cut them into 2 or 3 pieces before boiling. Serve the pasta in a large serving platter. Add the pieces of chicken and sauce over the pasta. Sprinkle with a generous amount of grated gruyere cheese.
TipPastitsada is a traditional recipe from Corfu. The tomato sauce here is aromatic, with the use of cloves, allspice and cinnamon figuring prominent. In Corfu, you can buy a pre-made blend of spices called Spetseriko and it was originally sold at pharmacies for medicinal uses. Today, many small grocers sell this blend which can contain up to nine spices (cloves, allspice, cinnamon, black pepper, paprika, bay, nutmeg, cumin).