Greek Corfu Chicken and Bucatini (Pastitsada Korfiatiki)
Greek Corfu Chicken and Bucatini – otherwise known as Pastitsada Korfiatiki is the most perfect Sunday meal to share with family or friends. It’s a very typical Sunday meal on the island of Corfu that I’m sure fills the streets as it braises in it’s very aromatic sauce. Every household has their own recipe for this fabulous sauce and dish and you can even buy a pre blend of seasoning and spices in Corfu just for this dish. It’s a blend of at least 8-10 spices depending on who you ask. In doing my research I also learned that many people add curry powder to the spice blend as well. That was a first for me to learn and I was so excited to try it in this dish.
Cinnamon is a very popular spice to add to tomato sauce based dishes in Greek cuisine. I love to add it to my bolognese along with a good bit of clove. I just love the flavour they impart to the sauce and anything in it. When I read about Pastitsada that not only has those two spices in it, but along list of others to follow, I knew I had to make it. Dishes as aromatic as this one are pure comfort food. The warming spices are exactly that - warming and comforting. I was curious though how curry could have been introduced to a dish from the Greek islands. Well I did a little research and read that curry and other spices were brought to the island by British sea men while the island was under siege by England.
I chose chicken to use in this dish although it’s traditionally made with rooster and I also read it was made with horse meat as well. You can definite make it with stewing beef too but it will likely take longer to cook and get tender.
Many recipes call for marinating your chicken over night with the spices and wine but I chose not too to save on prep and cooking time. The dish is already so lovely and aromatic, although it never hurts to marinade, I didn’t find it necessary with the chicken. I may rethink that if I’m going to make it with with beef though. Some recipes also call for coating and dredging the chicken pieces in flour and pan frying them before but I also didn’t do this. I think the sauce gets thick enough without the extra flour and the skin softens regardless as the chicken stews so I skipped that step all together. I’m just letting you know about these extra steps Incase you wanted to incorporate them into this dish. I know that some will help infuse the dish with even more flavours, so definitely add in the extra steps if you have the extra time.
This dish is not only aromatic and delicious, but it’s a great dish for company. It can feed quite a few, and doubling the recipe doesn’t take too much extra effort. It also looks beautiful set on a platter over a bed of buttery pasta. It’s just such a family meal that’s great to to enjoy around a large table with lots of bread wine and cheese! Maybe one day I will have it in Corfu and get the real Corfiot experience surrounding this traditional and well loved Sunday lunch or dinner!
- 1 whole large chicken, cut into pieces or you can use chicken thighs bone in and skin on (approx 3-3½ lbs)
- 4-6 tbsp of olive oil
- 3 onions, chopped
- 4 cloves of garlic, minced
- Salt and pepper to taste
- 1 cinnamon stick, whole
- ½ tsp ground clove
- 1 tsp paprika
- 1 tsp grated nutmeg
- 1 tsp ground cumin
- 1 tsp curry powder
- 6 pieces all-spice berries
- 1 large 28 oz can chopped tomatoes
- 2-3 tablespoons tomato paste
- 1 tablespoon granulated sugar (optional)
- ½ cup red wine (optional)
- ½ cup chicken broth or water
- 2 bay leaves
- 1 package bucatini pasta
- Grated cheese of choice for serving
- Chopped fresh herbs for garnish
- Dry chicken pieces with paper towel and season with a dusting of salt and pepper.
- In a heavy bottom stewing pot or Dutch oven, heat oil to medium-high and brown chicken in batches skin side down first and then all sides and then remove and set aside.
- Reduce heat to medium and add the onions and sauté until tender and translucent then add the garlic and all the spices except the bay leaf and cook for another minute until fragrant.
- Stir in the tomato paste and cook for just 30 seconds and then add the wine if using and let it cook and reduce for a minute.
- Pour in the tomatoes and the broth or water plus the bay leaf and then carefully place back the chicken in the pot with the sauce coming halfway up the chicken or more.
- Give everything a little stir and bring the sauce up to a boil. Once at a boil reduce the heat to medium-low and cover the pot and allow it to stew for 40 minutes stirring it occasionally.
- Remove lid and test for seasoning.
- Stir in sugar if using and allow sauce to simmer and reduce until sauce is nice and thick - another 10 minutes if needed.
- In the meantime cook your pasta according to package in salted boiling water. Drain and either butter or drizzle with a little olive oil.
- To serve either plate pasta in individual plates or a serving platter topped with the chicken and sauce.
- Sprinkle with grated cheese and some chopped fresh herbs and enjoy!!