Afritada is one of those tomato sauce based stews that is generally believed to have been introduced in the Philippines by the Spaniards. After three and a half centuries of Spanish colonization, it is not surprising that we find a lot of Mediterranean style stews in our cuisine. There are claims, however, that what we consider as Spanish-influenced dishes more closely resemble their counterparts in Mexican cuisine. Whether or not that is true is something I’ll leave to the historians. What I do know is that tomato-based stews abound in Filipino cuisine.
Afritada is not, however, the same as other tomato sauce based stews. Though similar in appearance, kaldereta‘s sauce is thickened with mashed liver, mechado uses thick beef slices with a cube of fat inserted at the center, callos is served with olives and its sauce is sticky because of the ligaments from the beef pata, pochero is additionally served with green vegetables and is accompanied by a spicy egglant sauce (nowadays called eggplant caviar) and menudo has cubes of pork liver and is cooked with garbanzos (chick peas) and raisins.
This is my version of chicken afritada. Whether it is more Mexican than Spanish, I cannot say. Truth is, it might even be more akin to an Italian stew than anything else. The secret is in the slow cooking which results in a thick and rich sauce. If you happen to have a piece of ham bone then, by all means, throw it in for added flavor.
- 6 tablespoons olive oil (not extra virgin)
- 750 grams chicken thighs
- 750 grams chicken drumsticks
- 1 Spanish chorizo (about 150 grams), sliced into 1/4-inch rings
- 6 cloves garlic minced
- 1 onions chopped
- 1 cup red wine
- 3 cup diced tomatoes
- 1 sprig oregano stripped (or 1/2 tsp. of dried oregano)
- 300 grams carrot peeled and cut into wedges
- 300 grams stewing potatoes peeled and cut into wedges
- 2 dried laurel leaves
- salt and pepper to taste
- 1 teaspoon sugar
Heat the olive oil in a large thick-bottomed pot.
Add the chicken pieces, in batches if necessary, and cook until lightly browned.
Add the chopped onions, minced garlic and laurel leaves, and cook, stirring, until the onion bits start to soften, about three minutes.
Pour in the red wine. Boil, uncovered, until the liquid is reduced to less than half.
Add the diced tomatoes and oregano. Stir. Season with salt, pepper and sugar.
Add the sliced chorizo, carrot and potato wedges. Stir.
Cover the pot tightly and simmer the stew for 40 to 50 minutes. Stir occasionally to make sure no scorched crust forms at the bottom of the pot. If the liquid evaporates too fast, add broth or water, no more than half a cup at a time. Toward the end of cooking time, taste the sauce and add more salt, pepper or sugar if necessary.
Remove the laurel leaves after cooking.
For best results, allow the cooked chicken afritada to sit for a couple of hours to allow the flavors to infuse and fully develop. Reheat to serve.