The short strands of pasta are cooked in the sauce itself; in Catalonia, that sauce is made with 'mar y montaña' (sea and mountain) – that is, with chicken and shellfish.
- 2 mild onions
- 2 garlic cloves
- 8 ripe tomatoes
- 200 ml (7 fl oz) mild olive oil, plus extra for frying
- salt and freshly ground black pepper
- 4 chicken leg quarters (preferably organic)
- 400 g (14 oz) spaghetti, broken
- 500 g (1 lb 2 oz) clams or cockles
- 1 green chilli
- 2 tbsp chopped almonds
- 1 large pinch of saffron strands
Oven temperatures are for conventional; if using fan-forced (convection), reduce the temperature by 20˚C. | We use Australian tablespoons and cups: 1 teaspoon equals 5 ml; 1 tablespoon equals 20 ml; 1 cup equals 250 ml. | All herbs are fresh (unless specified) and cups are lightly packed. | All vegetables are medium size and peeled, unless specified. | All eggs are 55-60 g, unless specified.
- Thinly slice the onions and 1 of the garlic cloves; chop the tomatoes. Heat the olive oil in a heavy-based saucepan over a low heat, add the onions and sliced garlic and cook for 15 minutes. Carefully add 2 tablespoons of water to the pan (the oil might spit) and continue to cook for 5 minutes, then stir in the tomatoes, season with salt and cook for a further 15 minutes. Transfer the mixture to a jug and purée using a hand-held blender.
- Heat another splash of oil in a large, heavy-based saucepan over a high heat, then add the chicken leg quarters and fry on all sides until golden brown all over. Reduce the heat to low, then add the tomato sauce and broken spaghetti, stirring well. Cook gently for about 20 minutes, until the pasta is al dente and the chicken is cooked through (no trace of pink remains when a skewer is inserted into the thickest part of the thigh). Add a splash of water if the sauce starts to dry out. Increase the heat to high, stir in the clams and cook for a final 5 minutes, or until the shells have opened.
- Meanwhile, deseed and finely chop the chilli, then grind it with the almonds, remaining garlic, saffron and a pinch of salt, using a mortar and pestle. Keep grinding! Stir the picada through the fideus just before serving.
Recipe and images from Under the Mediterranean Sun by Nadia Zerouali and Merijn Tol, Smith Street Books, RRP $55.00.