Saturday, February 6, 2016

Chicken Breast, Inspired by a Chef

Toledo cathedral.

In the shadow of Toledo’s grand Santa María cathedral is the eponymous restaurant of Chef Adolfo Muñoz, passionate proponent of everything gustatory. 

Adolfo has one of the finest wine cellars in the country, situated below street level in an excavated house dating back to Toledo’s  medieval Jewish quarter. He produces his own “garage” wine, Pago Del Ama Colección, from grapes grown on his estate, cigarral, within the municipality of Toledo. He’s a television chef and an enthusiastic promoter of La Mancha’s great products, such as saffron, partridge and olive oil. (Toledo is the capital of Castilla-La Mancha in central Spain.)

This recipe is adapted from a dish I savored at Restaurante Adolfo, where it was prepared with squab breast cooked very rare. Not being able to lay my hands on squab (although, I am occasionally tempted to net a couple of the wild doves that drink from the water bowl on my patio), I have substituted chicken breasts.

Chicken breast with crunchy vegetables and rice.

Chicken breasts should be more thoroughly cooked, but take care not to overcook them. They should still be tinged with pink in the center. I used two enormous chicken breast halves, to serve 4 persons. But you could use 4 individual-sized breasts. The vegetables should be slightly crunchy and the rice al dente.

I’ve given a recipe for making your own chicken broth. The broth flavors the rice and goes into the chicken pan juices. Freeze what’s left to use as the starting point of any soup.

Diced vegetables are lightly cooked. Rice is toasted before adding broth.

Chicken Breast with Crunchy Vegetables and Rice
Pechuga de Pollo con Arroz y Verduras Frescas

Serves 4.

For the broth
1 tablespoon olive oil
1 pound chicken carcass or wings
½ onion, sliced
¼ cup white wine
1 tomato, quartered
1 carrot
1 stalk celery
Pinch of thyme
Bay leaf
Sprig parsley
1 teaspoon salt
6 cups water

Heat the oil in a heavy pot and brown the chicken carcass or wings with the onion until flecked with dark brown.

Add the wine, tomato, carrot, celery, thyme, bay, parsley, salt, and water. Bring to a boil, cover, and simmer 1 hour.

Strain the broth, pressing hard on the solids. Discard solids. Let the broth stand 20 minutes. Skim off and discard fat that rises to the top. Set aside 3 cups of the broth to cook the rice and chicken. Reserve the remainder for another use (it can be frozen).

For the chicken breasts, vegetables, and rice
2 pounds boneless chicken breast halves, with skin (2, 3 or 4)
Freshly ground black pepper
2 tablespoons olive oil plus additional for brushing grill
1 ½ cups long-grain rice
1/3 cup diced carrots
1/3 cup diced leeks
1/3 cup diced red bell pepper
1/3 cup diced mushrooms
½ cup diced asparagus
¼ teaspoon saffron threads, crushed
3 cups broth
¼ cup white wine
Sprig of thyme or pinch of dried thyme
Sprig of rosemary or pinch of dried rosemary

Sear chicken on ridged grill pan.
Season the chicken breasts with salt and pepper. Heat a ridged grill pan and brush with oil. Sear the chicken breasts, skin-side down, about 1 ½ minutes. Turn them crosswise and grill 1 minute more. Turn them over and repeat the turns. Remove the breasts to a skillet big enough to hold them in one layer.


Dry-toast the raw rice.

In a heavy, dry skillet toast the rice over medium heat, stirring, until it is golden and toasted, about 8 minutes. Reserve.

Heat 2 tablespoons of oil in a saucepan. Add the carrots and leeks and sauté 3 minutes. Add the peppers and sauté 2 minutes. Add the mushrooms and asparagus and sauté 1 minute. The vegetables should be crunchy.

Add 2 tablespoons hot water to the saffron and allow to infuse.

Add 2 ½ cups of broth to the vegetables. Add additional salt to taste. Bring to a boil. Add the toasted rice and saffron infusion. Boil 3 minutes. Remove from heat, cover tightly, and let the rice set 10 minutes. The rice will be al dente.

Add the wine, thyme, and rosemary to the chicken breasts with ¼ cup of the chicken broth. Bring to a boil, cover, and simmer until they are cooked through, turning once, 10- 15 minutes, depending on thickness. (Add additional broth, if necessary.)

Slice the chicken breasts on the diagonal. Serve with the rice and vegetables.

Bring the remaining pan juices in the skillet to a boil and spoon it over the chicken, rice, and vegetables.

Chef Adolfo Muñoz, Toledo.

Have a look inside the kitchen at Restaurante Adolfo in Toledo.


  1. Hi Janet! Thank you so much for this great idea of where to eat in Toledo and for this recipe. I and a friend plan to be in Toledo Sept.5th and in Mijas Sept. 6,7 & 8. Would love to get together!
    This recipe sounds so good! Patty

    1. Patty: You'll love Restaurante Adolfo in Toledo! And, we'll definitely get together if you come to Mijas.

  2. Oh...Thanks for posting all THAT!!!!! Like it.