Basque Style Chicken With Peppers and Olives
Basque Style Chicken With Peppers and Olives

Basque-style chicken simmered in a simple sauce with roasted chillies, ham, tomatoes, garlic and olives. Makes a warming, hearty dinner on a chilly night.

I figured it would be easy to duplicate the Basque chicken I’ve had several times on the French side of the Basque Country (the area straddles the France-Spain border). But the versions I tried were all so different!

While they always include hot or mild peppers, tomatoes, and something meaty like ham or sausage, it was hard to pinpoint which mildly hot sauce I prefer.

Ultimately, I decided I liked the mild heat of roasted chilies along with some ham simmered in a tomato and garlic sauce with chicken thighs.

I like Anaheim, Poblanos, or Fresno peppers for this recipe – pretty mild as far as peppers go. Roast the peppers until charred throughout, or char them over a flame as Elise demonstrates in this video.

Any ham will do, as long as it’s not coated in honey. I mostly buy Black Forest. Cut it into matchsticks before adding to the sauce.

When it’s time to serve this Basque favorite, garnish with chopped green olives and parsley. It’s wonderful today, better tomorrow and even nicer and softer the day after.

Basque-style chicken with peppers and olives

preparation time
20 minutes

cooking time
50 minutes

total time
70 minutes

up to 6 servings


  • 3 mild chili peppers (Anaheim, Poblanos, Fresno, or other variety)

  • olive oil, for sprinkling

  • 3 tablespoons olive oil

  • 1/2 teaspoon salt

  • 1/4 teaspoon ground black pepper

  • 8 skin-on-bone chicken thighs (about 3 pounds)

  • 1 medium red onion, thinly sliced

  • 1/4 pound (a thick piece) baked ham, cut into matchsticks

  • 1 garlic clove, thinly sliced

  • 1 jalapeño or other small hot chilli, deseeded and chopped

  • 1 (15 ounce) can chopped tomatoes

  • 1 cup chicken broth

  • 1/2 cup pitted green olives, roughly chopped

  • 2 tablespoons chopped fresh parsley


  1. Roast Chili:

    Turn on the grill and place a grate about 5 inches from the grill element. Brush the chilies with enough oil to lightly coat them. Grill for 5 minutes, turning several times or until charred. (Alternatively, you can roast the chilies over an open flame on a gas stove.)

    Place in a bowl, cover with a plate to steam and soften the skin and set aside for 5 minutes.

  2. Peel chillies:

    Using your hands, gently peel off the charred skin of the chili. Cut the chili open, remove the seeds, discard and roughly chop.

  3. Roast Chicken:

    Trim off the excess fat from the thighs. Sprinkle everything with salt and pepper.

    In a large deep skillet or Dutch oven, heat the oil over medium-high heat. Working in batches, add half of the thighs, skin-side down. Bake 4 minutes or until undersides are golden brown. Flip and brown the other sides for 3 minutes.

    Transfer the chicken to a bowl. Fry the remaining thighs in the same way. Transfer the thighs to the bowl.

  4. Make the sauce:

    Remove all but 2 tablespoons of fat from the pan. Add the onion, ham and garlic. Cook for 5 minutes, stirring frequently, until the onions begin to soften. Add the roasted chilies and jalapeños. Continue cooking for 2 minutes, stirring frequently.

    Add tomatoes and broth. Using a wooden spatula, scrape the dark glaze from the bottom of the pan. Bring to a boil, reduce heat and partially cover. Simmer for 5 minutes.

  5. Cook chicken:

    Place the entire chicken, skin-side up, back in the bowl along with any juices. It’s okay if the thighs are tight. Pour some sauce over the chicken. Bring back to a boil, reduce heat and partially cover.

    Simmer for 20 to 25 minutes or until the chicken is cooked through and opaque and reading 165°F on a digital thermometer.

  6. Finish and serve:

    Taste the sauce for seasoning and add more salt and black pepper if you like. Sprinkle the dish with the chopped olives and parsley. Serve hot.

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Hello everybody, Even if you're limited on time and money, I believe you can prepare wonderful food with everyday products. All you have to do is cook cleverly and creatively!