There was a time in Spain when chickens, turkeys and other poultry were only served at Christmas and on certain “fiesta” days. In the rural villages, every household would keep 2 or 3 chickens or ducks for their eggs and they would only be sacrificed when they failed to produce any. These days, after fish, “pollo” (chicken) must be the favourite food in Spain and it finds its way into some of Spanish cookery's most celebrated dishes such as “paella”, “cocido madrilno” and “pollo al ajillo”. Spanish chickens still seem to taste better than the anaemic–looking specimens found in Britain and the rest of Europe. The best are free range, corn-fed chickens. This imparts a good flavour and gives them a more appetizing orangey-yellow colour. A simple roast chicken is just about my favourite dish and with a little care and effort it can be a revelation. If you fill the cavity with lemon wedges, crushed garlic cloves, fresh thyme and lots of seasoning you will add a wonderful flavour and aroma to the finished dish. Start by roasting the chicken in a hot oven (230 c/gas mark 8) for 10-15 minutes then lower the temperature to around 190c/gas 5 and cook for 30–40 minutes, with the occasional basting. Pierce the thighs with a trussing needle or fork to test if the chicken is done by watching to see if the liquid that escapes is clear, and then let it rest for 8-10 minutes before carving. Next week at the hotel, I will be launching a new, light Mediterranean-style menu called “Simply Fosh” that we will be serving in the olive press room as an alternative to our A la carte menu in the formal dinning room. The menu will be based around regional specialities from all over the Mediterranean and in the coming weeks I will be featuring some recipes that will be appearing on my new light menu, I'm also changing the A la carte so I'll be a busy boy for the next few days. Here are three Spanish regional favourites to whet you appetites.


l 1 turkey breast (skinned and diced) l 1kl potatoes (peeled and diced) l 1 Spanish onion (finely chopped) l 2 Garlic cloves (crushed)
· 150ml olive oil
· 300ml chicken stock
· 50g toasted almonds
· 25g toasted pine nuts
· 3 slices of stale white bread
· 200ml dry white wine
· 150ml dry sherry
· 2 bay leaves
· 1tspn. Chopped oregano
· Seasoning
Heat the olive oil in a heavy-bottomed pan and fry the turkey breasts until they start to colour. Add the onions, crushed garlic, oregano, bay leaves and pine nuts and fry for 1-2 minutes until the onions are golden brown. Add the white wine, dry sherry and chicken stock and bring to the boil. Add the potatoes; turn the heat down to a gentle simmer, season and cook for 20 minutes. Crush the toasted almonds and stale bread in a pestle and mortar and sprinkle over the top of the stew. Remove from the, cover with a lid and leave to stand for 6-8 minutes before serving.


l 1 chicken (quartered)
· 150ml olive oil
· 400ml tomato sauce
l 200g mushrooms (sliced) l 250g onions (finely chopped) l 1 garlic clove (crushed)
· 250ml white wine
· 25 capers
l 25 black olives (stoned)
· Seasoning
Heat the olive oil in a heavy–bottomed saucepan and fry the chicken pieces until golden brown on both sides.Add the onions, garlic and sliced mushrooms and stir well with a wooden spoon.

Pour in the white wine and add the tomato sauce. Cover with a lid and cook over a gentle flame for 25 minutes.
Add the capers, black olives and season to taste. Cook for a further 5 minutes and serve.

l 8 quails (cut in half) l 2 large Spanish onions (sliced) l 2 garlic cloves (crushed)
· 150ml olive oil
· 200ml dry white wine
l 3tpsn's sherry vinegar
· Sprig of fresh thyme
· Seasoning
Heat the olive oil in a heavy-bottomed saucepan and add the onions.
Cook over a gentle flame, stirring with a wooden spoon, without colouring the onions for 3-4 minutes until they start to soften. Add the crushed garlic, the sprig of thyme and the quail pieces and stir well with the wooden spoon to coat the meat. Add the dry white wine, sherry vinegar and cover with a lid. Cook slowly over a gentle flame for 25-30 minutes, stirring occasionally. Season with salt and pepper and serve.