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Mar i muntanya (Catalan chicken & prawns)

Jenny Chandler

A Catalan chicken and prawn dish thickened with a picada: a garlicky bread, nut and parsley paste 

Recipe Meta


15 mins


1 hour






For the picada

  • 2 tbsp olive oil
  • 2 garlic cloves, skinned and halved
  • 1 medium slice of rustic bread
  • 50g roasted almonds
  • A large handful of parsley leaves

For the main dish

  • 4 chicken legs
  • 2 tbsp olive oil
  • 12 large raw prawns, heads and shells on
  • 2 onions, diced
  • 200g tin of chopped tomatoes
  • 150ml Spanish brandy
  • 300ml chicken stock or water
  • 1 bay leaf
  • 1 sprig fresh thyme


Start by making the picada. Take a large oven-proof frying pan, clay cazuela or cast iron dish (big enough to hold all the chicken) and fry the garlic in the olive oil until it gilds and begins to smell fabulous. Set the garlic aside and fry the bread in the same oil until it crisps and soaks up most of the oil.

Now it’s up to you: pestle and mortar and plenty of elbow grease, or a quick blitz in the food processor – the aim is a thick, slightly rough paste. Pound or blitz the garlic, fried bread, almonds and parsley. Keep this for later.

Pre-heat the oven to 190C and continue with the same pan. Season the chicken with salt and pepper and then fry the pieces in the oil until the skin crisps and turns golden.

Set the chicken aside and fry the prawns very briefly in the same oil. Once they are beautifully pink, put them aside to cool and then keep them in the fridge until ready to use.

Add the onion to the pan and cook gently until it becomes really soft and just begins to turn brown. Add the tomatoes and bubble until the liquid has evaporated.

Pour on the brandy, and boil for a couple of minutes before adding the chicken stock or water and the herbs. Return the chicken pieces to the pan and place in the oven for about 30 mins or until the chicken is well cooked.

Stir in your picada and taste the sauce – you may need some salt. Add the prawns and place back in the oven for about 5 mins. Serve with good bread.

Image: John Holdship