French Fridays: Quick Basque Chicken Stew

Basque chicken stew with peppers in a skillet on a blue and white napkin.Recipe development is a funny thing… I’m in the last stages of finalising recipes for the next instalment of French Food for Everyone (next chapter coming at you in December – it’s all about le dîner/ dinner recipes!) and am working my way through recipe tester feedback.

I have a small but mighty group of testers (some of whom have been testing recipes for me since back in 2017 for In the French kitchen with kids!) who have been so enthusiastic and who are so detail-oriented in their feedback that it makes my job easy.

Every now and then, though, some feedback comes along that stops me in my tracks. Sometimes in a “OMG I have to get back in the kitchen IMMEDIATELY and remake this and check XYZ detail!” (this happens more often than it needs to but it’s par for the course for someone who second guesses EVERYTHING!).

But sometimes, it’s in a “Oh wow, I hadn’t thought of that!” way (kind of the point of recipe testing, right?). And sometimes, it even helps me develop a new recipe as is the case with today’s post. I’ve been working on a recipe for Poulet Basquaise for years now and I’ve finally got a version that I LOVE – it’s easier than my previous versions, less fussy and so do-able for a weeknight. Testers raved about this version – the version I tried to include in In the French kitchen with kids was a bit unwieldy for younger chefs and ultimately got cut from the book, so I’ve been working on making it a better recipe for ages now.

What is Poulet Basquaise?

Basque chicken or Poulet Basque/ Basquaise is a specialty of the Basque region in Southwest France. It’s a chicken stew with a sauce (piperade) made with red and green peppers, onions, garlic, tomatoes and Espelette pepper, simmered slowly and the white (of the chicken) and red and green (of the peppers) represent the Basque flag. Traditionally the chicken pieces are on the bone and for my version, I use flavourful chicken thighs. But one of my testers came back to me with feedback that while they made the recipe as was written for the testing, they probably wouldn’t choose the recipe because they don’t like working with chicken thighs. Hmm, ok then. They loved the sauce but didn’t like the chicken on the bone. Ok then… Fair.

While I won’t adjust the final recipe for inclusion in the book, I DID go back to the kitchen and work on a version made with chicken breast because it’s always a good idea to have options in recipes. And, lucky for you and my cooking club students this week, I’m sharing this (easy) version with you today.

Yield: 4-6

Basque Chicken Stew (the easy version!)

Basque chicken stew with peppers in a skillet on a blue and white napkin.

Basque chicken stew - the easy way! Typically made with on-the-bone chicken thighs, this version is made with chicken breast, making it quicker for a weeknight and easier for younger chefs to help!

Prep Time 15 minutes
Cook Time 30 minutes
Total Time 45 minutes


  • 1lb (454g) boneless, skinless chicken breast, cut into bite-sized pieces
  • 1 tablespoon olive oil
  • 1 medium onion (approx. 150-200 g), halved and roughly chopped
  • 4 cloves garlic, minced
  • 1/2 cup (120 ml) warm chicken stock
  • 1 large red pepper (approx. 250 g total), cored, seeded and chopped into 2cm pieces
  • 1 large green pepper (approx. 250 g total), cored, seeded and chopped into 2cm pieces
  • 1 teaspoon dried thyme or Herbes de Provence
  • 1 teaspoon flaky sea salt
  • 1/4 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
  • 1 teaspoon Piment d’Espelette (or you can use 1/2 teaspoon chili powder or smoked paprika)
  • 2 cups crushed tomatoes


  1. Heat the olive oil in a large, deep skillet (approx. 10 inches/ 25 cm in diameter), over medium-high heat.
  2. Add the onions and cook until they just start to soften, around 2-3 minutes (you don’t want to brown them).
  3. Add the garlic and cook briefly (1 minute).
    Add the chicken and cook until it’s just starting to brown on the outside (+/-5 minutes, depending on your pan and the size of your chicken pieces).
  4. Keep the skillet on the medium-high heat and add a splash of the chicken stock to the pan. Use a wooden spatula to scrape up any browned bits from when you cooked the chicken. Do not throw these out, they will add a lot of flavour to your dish.
  5. Once the liquid has evaporated, add the peppers, thyme, salt, pepper and Piment d’Espelette (or chili powder).
  6. Stir to combine all ingredients well, then cook on medium heat for 5-6 minutes. Keep an eye on the vegetables and add a splash extra chicken stock if the pan starts to look dry. The peppers will still be a little crisp at this point.
  7. Add the tomatoes and rest of the stock (you shouldn’t have much left at all), stir well and bring to a boil.
  8. Cook, uncovered for 10-15 minutes or until the peppers are tender and you have a sauce consistency that you like (always feel free to add more chicken stock if you like extra sauce).

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did you make this recipe?

please leave a comment or review on the blog or share a photo and tag me on Instagram @eatlivtravwrite !

This version, whilst not traditional Poulet Basque, has all the flavours of the original but it comes together faster (it’s no less flavourful!) and it’s more do-able for little chefs or those short on time. Highly recommended for those chilly evenings when time to prep dinner is tight and you’re looking for a big bowl of comfort. Thanks to tester J for the inspiration!


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