Cookbook Review: Basque: Spanish recipes from San Sebastian & Beyond

Cover art by Jenny Bowers

Spanish natives are fiercely proud of their heritage, language, and their food and drink. Nowhere is this more apparent than in the Basque country, an area in the north of Spain, bordering the Atlantic Ocean and France.

A major city within the region is San Sebastián, known for its rich mix of traditions which are deep-rooted in food and cooking. From its obsession with the perfect ‘pintxos’ (small tapas snacks), to holding the most Michelin stars per head than anywhere else in the world, there’s plenty here for food-lovers.

In Basque, José Pizarro shows readers how to create some of the best-loved dishes from this area at home, including traditional Basque dishes such as bacalao (salt cod with pisto and allioli), hake “a la plancha” with oven potatoes and Romesco sauce, and wild mushrooms with scrambled eggs. He dispels the myth that creating tapas and traditional Spanish fare is a laborious task, and shows you how to bring the great experience of dining in the little bars of San Sebastián to your own kitchen.

Enjoy the renowned tapas dishes, such as croquetas (stuffed fried potato croquettes), tortilla de patatas (Spanish omelette) and Jamón Ibérico (cured ham), along with fried scampi with mayonnaise, razor clams with seaweed, boiled egg with crab and mint. The food of this region is wonderful to share with your family and friends—but it’s also about fun, informality, and not being a slave to your stove!

Set against the backdrop of the stunning views of San Sebastián and the rest of the Basque country, this book will whisk you to the heart of Spanish culture. José also shares menu suggestions to help you plan, shop, cook, and, most importantly, enjoy this wonderful way of eating and socializing.

Basque: Spanish recipes from San Sebastián & Beyond by José Pizarro, is available at and

Chicken Stewed in Cider & Apples

Chicken Stewed in Cider & Apples

Chicken Stewed in Cider and Apples – Photograph by Laura Edwards

The Basque Country is feted across Spain, and indeed the world, for its culinary creativity. It has more three Michelin-starred restaurants than anywhere else, and I can understand why – there are so many local products that you can be inspired by here.

My inspiration for this dish, as with many of my recipes, came from seeing the ingredients together. When I see them, I just have to create a plate of food. When we were in Astarbe in a beautiful cider house, I saw the chickens hopping around the apple trees, and that was it!

Serves 6

olive oil

1 free-range chicken (1.8–2 kg/4 lb–4½ lb)

sea salt and freshly ground black pepper

1 apple, peeled, cored and halved

2 onions, finely sliced

2 bay leaves

6 sage leaves

1 cinnamon stick

500 ml (17 fl oz) cider

400 ml (13 fl oz) fresh chicken stock

25 g (1 oz) unsalted butter

3 apples, peeled, cored and sliced into 8 pieces

1 teaspoon caster (superfine) sugar

75 g (2½ oz) sultanas


Preheat the oven to 160ºC (320ºF/Gas 3).

Heat a layer of oil in a large casserole dish. Season the chicken inside and out and brown all over in the casserole dish. Set aside and put the halved apple inside the cavity.

Add the onions to the casserole and fry for 10 minutes to soften. Return the chicken to the pan and add the herbs and cinnamon.

Pour in the cider and bubble for a few minutes, then add the stock. Bring to the boil, then cover and transfer to the oven to cook for 1 hour.

Meanwhile, heat a little oil and the butter and fry the rest of the apples with the sugar until golden and caramelised. Add the sultanas and toss in the buttery juices. Add to the casserole about halfway through the cooking time.

Remove the lid of the casserole and turn up the oven to 220ºC (430ºF/Gas 7). Cook for 10 minutes more to brown the top of the chicken, then serve.

Recipe taken with permission from Basque: Spanish recipes from San Sebastian & Beyond by José Pizarro, published by Hardie Grant Books, ISBN 9781784880262.

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