Pastisada – cooked in Corfu with London pretentiousness

Here is another traditional Corfiot recipe that has been languishing in my Corfu notebook for months, pastisada. It’s usually made with either rooster or beef and served with spaghetti or a longer version of macaroni (used to make pastitsio), but as I like to be different and my guinea pig doesn’t like to eat chicken on the bone I used lean chicken breast, which in my mind seems to make it the more healthy option too.  Sticking with the health kick, and keeping in mind my gluten-free friends, I busted out my Veggetti for the first time and made courgetti (I know the name sounds utterly wanky but it is delicious and you can call it courgette pasta if it makes you feel better).

patisada with courgetti

Pastisada

Ingredients (serves 2)

  • 2 chicken breasts
  • 6-8 whole cloves
  • cinnamon
  • nutmeg
  • oregano
  • olive oil
  • garlic
  • onion
  • tomato puree
  • 4 courgettes

Method

The marinade

Traditional recipes do not call for marination but I have always marinated my meat, even if just for a little while, and I wasn’t about to stop now.

To start I grated 2 cloves of garlic into a generous glug of olive oil, salt and pepper, then added a tsp of oregano, a tsp of tomato puree, 3 cloves and two good pinches of both cinnamon and nutmeg. Again the traditional recipe doesn’t call for nutmeg, but it just felt right somehow.

I then mixed this all into a paste and rubbed over the chicken and left it in the fridge for four hours. two hours would have done, overnight would have been fine or even if doing this in a hurry you could always let your chicken sit in the picture while you chop your onions and prepare your corgetti.

Cooking the chicken

First, heat you frying pan, you wont need any oil because there is enough in the marinade.

Brown and seal the chicken in batches. It won’t actually brown too much because of the moisture in the marinade. Remove the chicken with a slotted spoon and set aside.

Next, cook the onions and garlic in the oil left in the pan and tip in any excess marinade. Once they are translucent and slightly caramelised add the chicken back to the pan, with the same quantity of herbs and spices used in the marinade. If you are fan of cloves you can add more as this is traditionally a very clovey dish, but for me its a very overpowering flavour and can taste a bit medicinal for my tastes.

Then, in a small jug or good sized mug dissolve 2 tsps of tomato puree and pour over the chicken. if the chicken is not quite covered you can top up with a little more water from the kettle. Then add salt and pepper to taste and a pinch of sugar. Bring to a rolling boil then turn down to a simmer and cook loosely covered for 20-30 mins until the sauce has thickened.

The Courgetti

This was my first outing with the Veggetti and I wasn’t really sure what to expect having seen a few unsuccessful attempts on YouTube. But it worked fine and I ended up with some lovely spaghetti (I did however, end up with some random left over shapes but i then used those in my oven baked Greek omelette)

As my mini oven in my tiny studio flat in Corfu was pretty hopeless, my initial plan to flash fry the courgetti went awry. The hob took far to long to heat up and my minimal cookware meant I only had a tiny frying pan to do it in too, so I opted to oven roast. This turned out to be a great idea. I placed the courgetti in a roasting tray, drizzled with my lovely home pressed olive oil, seasoned it and roasted it for 10 mins at 200degrees until warm and al dente.

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