Knack South American Cooking: Chicken with Sweet Peas (Chile)

by Liz Caskey on August 9, 2010

Sweet peas are a garden-fresh addition to juicy free-range chicken

Sweet peas in the springtime are a delectable treat. Shucked fresh, they bring vibrancy to a dish. Chilean cooks inherited this traditional recipe from Galicia in the north of Spain, marrying a tender young chicken with white wine, tomatoes, and peas.

For best results, buy a free-range chicken no larger than 3 pounds and brine it for several hours. Fresh peas also make a huge difference versus the frozen variety. Fresh peas should be round, tiny, and able to be eaten raw, with a delicious sweet aftertaste.

Serve this recipe with a side of steamed white rice, or for a heartier meal, incorporate two peeled and cubed potatoes in the braising. Yield: 4–6 servings


2 tablespoons oil

1 3-pound chicken, cut into 8 pieces

1 teaspoon salt

1 onion, chopped

3 cloves garlic, minced

1/2 red bell pepper, finely chopped

2 teaspoons paprika

2 teaspoons red wine vinegar

1 can chopped tomatoes

1 cup sweet peas, fresh or frozen

1 cup fresh Roma tomatoes, chopped

Black pepper, to taste

2 tablespoons minced chives, for garnish

In a deep pan, heat oil. Sprinkle chicken with 1/2 teaspoon salt  and brown evenly on all sides. Remove and reserve. In same pan, sauté onion, garlic, and red bell pepper until onion is transparent. Add paprika, red wine vinegar, canned tomatoes, and rest of salt; return chicken. Braise on low for 25 minutes. Add peas, Roma tomatoes, and black pepper; cook another 10 minutes. Garnish with chives, and serve with white rice.

Cooking Tips

Slowly Cook Chicken

  • Use chicken thighs and legs rather than breasts. They have more fat and connective tissue, which makes them juicier and more succulent with this technique.
  • Using a little wine as the braising liquid actually helps to tenderize the meat as it cooks.
  • Cook on a medium-low setting rather than boiling. This gentle cooking will yield tender meat.
  • Top the pan with a lid to seal in moisture and aid the cooking process.

Add the Peas

  • Fresh peas should be soft. Mushy or hard peas can be the sign of unripe or rotten vegetables.
  • Only cook the peas for a couple minutes. Overcooking them will make them bland and less sweet.
  • If using frozen peas, add to the pot frozen. Do not defrost.

Make It Easy

For a quick, wholesome meal during the week, braised chicken dishes can easily be frozen and thawed. Once prepared, let the food thoroughly cool. Place cooled chicken in resealable plastic bags. Press to remove the air from the bag and seal. Lay the bag flat in the freezer to occupy less space. To defrost, leave in the refrigerator overnight or in cool water until thawed.

Recipe Variation

“Drowned” Chicken: Brown 8 pieces of chicken in. 3 tablespoons  oil; reserve. Add 1 sliced red onion, 2 sliced carrots, 1 clove minced garlic, 2 teaspoons paprika, 1 teaspoon oregano, and 1 teaspoon black pepper; cook 7 minutes. Return chicken; add 1 cup water, 1/2 cup white wine, 1 tablespoon white wine vinegar, 2 tablespoons minced parsley, 1 sprig thyme, and 1/2 teaspoon salt. Cook 20 minutes. Add 3 cups cubed potatoes; cook until tender. Dissolve 1 teaspoon cornstarch in 1 tablespoon water; stir into sauce.


Todd Trzaskos - VT Wine Media August 9, 2010 at 7:30 pm

Hey Liz, this one totally makes me think of a big mid-day meal at the home of my in laws, and is such an easy dish to prepare. Fresh ingredients are the real magic.

Mart S. - Grotto Cellars August 11, 2010 at 1:49 pm

Thanks for the recipe! It’s really to prepare, you just need the right ingredients. Cheers!

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