Having made Sardinas en Escabeche last week …and eaten them, I was left with some pickling liquid.
Brief recap: escabeche is a food preservation technique which originated in Persia or Arabia several millennia ago. The word escabeche is derived from the Persian word sikbaj, meaning cooked in vinegar – al-sikbaj. Both the Greeks and Romans used vinegar as a preservative (the Romans used it to preserve fried fish and added it to their popular fish sauce Garum), so escabeche probably reached Spain long before the the Moorish conquest of Iberia. The Greeks and Romans both had fish preservation factories in Portugal and Spain. The Spanish added an extra taste dimension to escabeche when they discovered the Americas and brought pimentón (paprika) back to Europe.
I often incorporate the escabeche liquid into a pasta sauce with the sardines, or drizzle it on salad and it’s fantastic per mullar pa – Catalan expression, “to wet bread” – meaning that a sauce is good enough to dip your bread in it! However, this time I thought I’d do something more extravagant with the escabeche, since it contains many of the ingredients associated with a marinade – Chicken marinated in Escabeche. This relates directly to the Iberian technique of preserving raw meat en adobo – before the advent of refrigeration, meat was often (similarly) preserved raw in wine or wine vinegar. Vindaloo (Carne de vinha d’alhos) was originally an Iberian rabbit or pork dish (using preserved meat in wine vinegar) taken to India by the Portuguese.
Pollo Marinado en Escabeche:
chicken stock for gravy
Add half a teaspoon of pimentón de la Vera picante (the hot one) to the escabeche. Marinate the chicken for a few hours or overnight. My butcher wrapped the chicken in paper, then handed it to me in a plastic bag – this is common since meat in paper leaks, so I recycled the bag and used it as the marination medium. Unfortunately plastic bags are one of the most efficient vessels for a marinade.
24 hours later, I put the lemon and garlic inside the bird and the vegetables underneath. Sprinkle with sea salt and cracked black pepper. Cook for 2 hours at 200º C, basting every 20 minutes or so.
Sprinkle with parsley, to add colour, when done.
There were two layers of fat on top of the escabeche cooking liquid. I used the top layer to make a roux and and then stirred in the bottom layer (below the fat) of chicken and vegetables juices.
I combined the escabeche roux with chicken stock and red wine to make a gravy.
The chicken tasted fantastic and was incredibly succulent – the escabeche worked in a similar way to brining. The acidic escabeche gravy really complimented the broad beans, green beans and cauliflower served with the bird. I recommend drinking a glass or two of Gallo Alejandro Chana Tinto from las Islas Canarias, with the roast.