This stew is a flavor bomb that defines the quintessential cuisine of northern Spain, Catalonia. The marriage of poultry and seafood often is a paired combination, which is undeniably as heavenly as it is unique, so much so that this will become a dish you will come to crave and prepare often. The picada is what creates the creamy factor in this dish with the bread and almonds.
6 chicken thighs – bone in and skin left on – remove from fridge at least 1 hour before cooking
20 medium/large raw shrimp – peeled with tails left on – deveined
2 large potatoes – peeled and cut into medium cubes
2 medium sized tomatoes – skinned and deseeded – finely chopped
1 clove of garlic – peeled and chopped
1 medium sized onion – finely chopped
½ glass of white wine
Pinch of sugar
½ TSP of bouquet garni
Kosher salt and fresh cracked pepper
1/2 piece of white bread – preferably baguette 3-4 days old cut into cubes
3 TBSP cognac
2 garlic cloves
2 TSP fresh chopped parsley
12 almonds – with their skins off (soak the almonds in a bowl covered with boiling water for about 1 minute and drain – the skins squeeze right off)
In a Dutch oven add about 2 TBSP of olive oil and sear the thigs on both sides to achieve a golden color, removing to a plate and do the same with the shrimp, but don’t cook them all the way.
Boil some water. Place the tomatoes in the boiling water for a few minutes and the remove their skins. Remove most of the seeds and chop them finely.
In the same Dutch oven, make the sofrito, by adding the chopped onion and garlic clove – sauté for about 5 minutes with a pinch of salt and add the chopped tomatoes, the pinch of sugar, bouquet garni and the wine. Allow to cook for about 15 minutes on low and reduce by half – being careful that it doesn’t reduce too much, stirring often.
Make the picada. In a small skillet add about 1 TBSP of olive oil and sauté the pieces of bread, the almonds, the garlic cloves and the parsley. Cook for about 5 minutes till the almonds have acquired a bit of color as well as the garlic. Place the contents to a kitchen working bowl and add the cognac and about 1-2 TBSP of white wine. Puree with an immersion blender or in a food processor and set aside.
Nestle the chicken thighs with the bay leaf in the sofrito and the picada. Cook for a few minutes to evaporate the cognac a bit. Add the potatoes, seafood stock and braise for about 45 minutes. Add a little bit more stock if needed, but the sauce should remain creamy and not watery. Incorporate the reserved shrimp and cook for about 5 more minutes. Check for seasonings and serve. Its better served the next day.