What differentiates chicken caldereta from chicken afritada? The chilies and the liver spread. Both are stews with tomato sauce but, when cooking caldereta, chopped chilies are added to the spice base. Then, towards the end of cooking, liver spread is stirred into the sauce. In our case, we prefer mashed cooked chicken liver over canned liver spread.
Caldereta is a Filipino dish? Yes and no. It is an adaptation of the Spanish caldereta. This country was a Spanish colony from 1521 to 1898 and, in those centuries, a lot of Spanish dishes merged with local ones. Among them is caldereta (also spelled kaldereta) and goat meat is traditionally used to cook the dish. Goat has more bones than meat and the meat has a strong gamey smell. I remember my father-in-law neutralizing the gaminess by boiling the goat meat with tamarind leaves. At home, we prefer either beef or chicken for our caldereta.
In this version of chicken caldereta, sweet potatoes were substituted for potatoes, olives were omitted and, instead of plain mashed cooked chicken livers, homemade liver pâté was added to the sauce. The sweet potatoes made a better partner for the spicy sauce. The liver pâté added another layer of flavor.
- 1 kilo chicken thighs and legs skin on
- 2 to 3 sweet potatoes
- 1/2 cup olive oil (not extra virgin)
- 1/2 cup all-purpose flour
- 6 cloves garlic minced
- 3 to 4 shallots chopped
- 4 to 6 plump and juicy tomatoes chopped
- 2 bell peppers chopped
- 2 to 3 bird's eye chilies finely chopped
- 1/4 teaspoon dried oregano
- 1 and 1/2 cups tomato sauce
- 1/2 cup sweet peas
- 2 tablespoons liver pâté
Pat the chicken thigh and legs dry with paper towels. Rub generously with salt and pepper. Set aside.
Peel the sweet potatoes and cut into two-inch cubes.
Heat the olive oil in a pan. Over medium heat, fry the sweet potatoes until lightly browned. They don't have to be cooked all the way through at this point. Scoop out and set aside.
Toss the chicken in flour; shake off the excess.
Reheat the olive oil. Over medium-high heat, fry the chicken until browned. Again, you're not cooking them through at this point but merely searing to give them better flavor and texture (see do we really need to brown meat before braising or stewing?).
Pour off the olive oil leaving only about two tablespoonfuls in the pan. Reheat the oil. Saute the garlic, shallots, tomatoes, bell peppers, chilies and oregano until softened. Pour in the tomato sauce. Stir. Taste. Season with salt and pepper, as needed. Bring to the boil.
Add the browned chicken to the sauce, in a single layer for best results. Lower the heat, cover the pan and simmer the chicken for 35 to 45 minutes.
Stir the liver pâté in a tablespoon of hot water. Pour into the pan. Swirl the pan repeatedly to blend. Taste the sauce. Adjust the seasonings, as needed.
Add the peas and browned sweet potatoes to the chicken. Cover the pan. Simmer for another ten minutes.
Taste the sauce one last time and adjust the seasonings, if needed.
You may serve the chicken caldereta immediately. But, like any stew, it will be even tastier if allowed to sit overnight in the fridge. Steam to reheat to avoid stirring.