Piperade is a sauteed tomato-pepper-onion dish, seasoned with thinly-sliced ham and the French chile, Piment d’Espellette. This Basque dish is frequently served, as a sort of sauce, with chicken or other main courses.
1 (3- to 3-1/2-lb) broiler chicken, cut into 8 pieces (you can ask the person at the meat counter to do this)
1 Tbsp olive oil
For the Piperade:
1 – 15 oz can diced tomatoes, drained.
1 Tbsp + 2 tsp olive oil
4 oz thinly sliced Bayonne ham, cut into 1/2-inch squares (or, if unavailable, Prosciutto will do nicely)
2 medium yellow onions, halved and thinly sliced
2 medium garlic cloves, minced
2 Tbsp fresh Italian parsley, coarsely chopped
1 Tbsp fresh thyme leaves, coarsely chopped
1 medium dried bay leaf
2 medium red, yellow, or orange bell peppers, cleaned and sliced lengthwise into 1/4-inch strips
2 medium green bell peppers, cleaned and sliced lengthwise into 1/4-inch strips
Piment d’Espelette to taste
Meanwhile, in a large heat-proof casserole or dutch oven, heat the olive oil over medium-high heat, until surface of oil is shimmering. Do not over-heat the oil, or it will begin to smoke.
Once oil is hot enough, add 1/3 to 1/2 of the chicken pieces to the pan, allowing the pieces to cook until very brown on all sides, turning pieces over as needed. Remove browned chicken from oil and set aside, then repeat the process with additional chicken until all the pieces are well-browned all over, about 10 minutes per batch.
Remove dutch oven from the stove, allowing oil to cool slightly before discarding the excess. Wipe the empty, slightly cooled, pot with paper towels.
Make the piperade:
Add 1 Tbsp of the oil to a large Dutch oven over medium heat. When the oil is hot enough that it begins to shimmer, add the ham and brown it, stirring occasionally, about 8 minutes, until the meat turns a golden brown color. Remove ham from pan with a slotted spoon, setting aside for now.
Add the remaining 2 tsp olive oil to the dutch oven, and add the onion and garlic. Cook, over medium heat, until ingredients have softened and are beginning to caramelize, about 8 min. Add the herbs and bell pepper slices, generously seasoning with salt. Put the lid on the dutch oven and allow the mixture to cook on medium-low heat, undisturbed, until the peppers have lost their crunch, about 10 min.
Set aside the lid and stir in the drained, diced tomatoes, browned ham. Add Piment d’Espelette to taste. Season well with salt. Allow mixture to simmer, uncovered, for 10 – 12 minutes, until the flavors combine and the pan liquids have cooked down a bit. Remove the bay leaf.
Transfer the batch of pipérade to the bottom of the chicken pot, topping with the browned chicken pieces. Replace lid on the chicken pot, and bring mixture to a simmer over low heat.
Allow to cook, mostly undisturbed, only lifting the lid to stir occasionally and to keep the mixture from burning on the bottom of the pan, until the chicken is cooked through, about 45 minutes.
Serve on top of steamed rice or potatoes.
Make ahead: Piperade can be made up to several days ahead of serving. Allow to come to room temperature before adding to chicken pot, so as not to mess up the cooking time.