Not a fan of garlic? Then Spanish Garlic Chicken (Pollo Al Ajillo) will change your mind. The sweetness of the garlic, combined with the herbs — expect a punch of flavor in every bite of this traditional Spanish dish! Yum!
What is pollo al ajillo?
‘Pollo‘ is chicken in Spanish, and ‘ajillo‘ means garlic — which literally translates to garlic chicken.
It’s one of those Spanish tapas that you can ultimately serve as the main dish. So no worries, you can have more than a serving as an appetizer.
Note that almost every Hispanic country has its way of making pollo al ajillo, but the use of sherry makes this recipe distinctly Spanish.
Oh! Always make sure you have some bread when serving this garlic chicken.
And if you want to do it like the locals, you should pick those garlic bits and place them on top of your bread! 🙂
IF YOU WANT MORE TRADITIONAL SPANISH RECIPES, YOU WILL LIKE THESE POSTS!
- Olive oil – extra virgin olive oil, if possible.
- Chicken – I strongly suggest using cuts of chicken with bones for making Spanish garlic chicken because it will give you a more flavorful dish.
- Garlic – if you love garlic, feel free to add more than I indicated in this recipe.
- Herbs and seasoning – parsley, bay leaves, dried thyme, rosemary, salt, and ground black pepper.
- Sherry – not to be confused with sherry vinegar that’s used in authentic patatas bravas, sherry is a fortified wine primarily produced in Spain.
Sherry comes in various types, so make sure you use the dry sweet variety.
Start preparing your pollo al ajillo by seasoning the chicken with salt and pepper (photo 1).
Heat the olive oil over medium-high heat using a medium to a large skillet.
Once the oil is ready, start browning the chicken in batches.
Do not place them too close to each other (photo 2).
Place all the browned chicken back into the skillet.
Add garlic, salt, pepper, dried rosemary, thyme, and bay leaves (photo 3).
Mix to combine.
Cover with a lid, then adjust the heat to medium.,
Cook for fifteen to twenty minutes, occasionally mixing to prevent the chicken from sticking.
Remove the cover, turn the heat back to medium-high, then pour the sherry.
Leave it for two to three minutes, uncovered, and then mix your Spanish garlic chicken to combine everything (photo 4).
Keep it uncovered while cooking for about ten minutes until the sherry has completely evaporated — continue mixing during this time.
Take the skillet off the heat and transfer it to plates.
Serve your pollo al ajillo with fresh parsley, if desired.
- Chop the chicken into smaller portions. It makes it easier to cook — both in cooking time and in mixing them.
- Smash the garlic, do not slice them finely. The aim is to have noticeable bits and pieces of garlic flavored by the herbs and sherry.
- Feel free to replace the dried herbs with fresh ones if you have them on hand or if that’s how you prefer them.
- If you have time left, you can place the skillet in your oven (using your typical broiler setting) and leave it there for no more than ten minutes. You will get a more golden, darker color to the chicken.
You can use red wine, white wine, or Madeira. Any of these will turn out great.
However, if you want to keep it traditional and buy some sherry to try out for this dish, look for Manzanilla sherry.
Some sherries are extremely sweet (like Pedro Ximenez in Spanish Sweet & Sticky Chicken Wings) — it will not go well with this dish.
You can, but I don’t recommend it.
You need to keep the bones in the chicken to get the maximum flavor in every bite. It just does not taste the same when you use boneless cuts.
You can go ahead and try it if you want to find out.
Looks absolutely delicious, right? Then give this Spanish garlic chicken recipe a try one of these days!
Spanish Garlic Chicken (Pollo Al Ajillo)
- Cast Iron Skillet (10.25 inch)
- 1.5 to 2 pounds chicken (3/4 to 1 kg), chopped
- 10 to 12 cloves garlic, peeled and smashed
- 3 tbsp olive oil
- 1 tsp dried thyme
- 1/2 tsp dried rosemary
- 2 to 3 pcs dried bay leaves
- 1/3 cup sherry (or any of the substitutes mentioned)
- salt and pepper, to season
- parsley, to garnish (optional)
- Season the chopped chicken with salt and pepper.
- Set a medium to large skillet on medium-high heat and add olive oil.
- Once the oil is ready, start browning the chicken. (Note: Do not place the chicken pieces too close to each other.)
- Once all the chicken is browned, put everything back in the skillet and add garlic, salt, and pepper, dried thyme, rosemary, and bay leaves.
- Mix everything to combine. Put a lid on the skillet, adjust the heat to medium and cook for 15 to 20 minutes while mixing occasionally.
- Remove the lid and adjust the heat back to medium-high. Pour the sherry on the garlic chicken and do not touch for about 3 minutes.
- Start mixing, and if bits are sticking in the bottom of the pan, the sherry should have deglazed them so that everything would be combined.
- Continue cooking uncovered (mixing occasionally) until the sherry has completely evaporated. It usually takes about 10 minutes.
- Take your pollo al ajillo off the heat, garnish with some fresh parsley (if preferred), and serve.
- Cook’s Tip #1: Fresh herbs are great if you have them, but the dried ones are an excellent option for this garlic chicken recipe.
- Cook’s Tip #2: Chop the chicken into smaller bits, but keep the bones there. Boneless chicken is not great for making Spanish garlic chicken.
- Cook’s Tip #3: You can use Madeira, white or red wine as a substitute for sherry.
- Cook’s Tip #4: Smash the garlic, do not chop them finely. Instead, try picking up pieces of them later when they’ve been flavored by sherry and herbs. Delicious!
- Cook’s Tip #5: If you want a deeper color to your garlic chicken, place the skillet in the oven (set at your usual broiler temperature) for about 10 minutes. Do not keep it longer; you might end up drying the chicken.