Pollo al Ajillo - How to Cook the Classic Spanish Garlic Chicken

Published on 10/13/2009 in Spanish Culture

You could say that Pollo al Ajillo is the real national dish of Spain, and after Paella it's certainly the best known. The problem that we have often found is, that the skin has been allowed to become limp and pimply - "flojo" in Spanish.

pollo al ajilloOne of the secrets is to keep the skin crispy and only add the sauce at the last moment, just before you serve it. The combination of - tender young Chicken, fresh garlic, lemon juice, parsley and dry sherry is absolutely heavenly to look at, smell and then finally eat.

Just follow David's easy, step-by-step instructions, for perfect results every time. This is what you'll need.

Ingredients for four people:

  • One whole Chicken of 3lb. Approx.
  • Six Plump Cloves of Garlic.
  • One bunch of fresh flat leaf Parsley.
  • Two or three sprigs of fresh Thyme(One teaspoon of dried will do).
  • One large whole Lemon.
  • One small glass of dry Sherry(A good dry white wine will do).
  • Extra Virgin Olive Oil - EVOO.
  • One teaspoon of Cornflour (corn starch) slaked in a little cold water - to thicken.
  • Salt and Black Pepper.


Just a word here about cutting up your Chicken.

First remove the legs, separate the thighs and drumsticks and cut each in half with a large sharp knife. Then remove the backbone and separate the breasts, cutting each one in two. Now remove the wings cutting off and discarding the tips.

Now for the rest of the: Method.

  • Season the chicken pieces with Salt and Freshly ground Black Pepper and leave for five minutes to rest.
  • Brown the chicken in Two Tablespoons of the Extra Virgin Olive Oil, in a large heavy skillet - medium high heat. 
  • Turn heat down and cook for 15 Minutes turning occasionally.
  • Meanwhile - Skin and bash your Garlic with the Blade of a Chopping Knife, then chop finely.
  • Chop a good Handfull of Parsley and squeeze your Lemon.
  • Remove the cooked Chicken Pieces to a serving dish and keep warm (warm enough to keep that skin crispy) - retaining the juices.
  • Add the Garlic to the pan juices and cook Gently for about 10 minutes - being carefull not to burn.
  • Now add the Sherry and Thyme - turn up the heat and let the sauce reduce to about half while you stir.
  • Pour off any excess oil, add the Lemon juice and about 3/4 of the chopped Parsley and reduce again - thickening with a little of the cornflour if necessary.
  • Take the Chicken from the oven - pour over the Sauce - sprinkle the rest of the chopped parsley over the top - and Serve.


¡Buen Provecho!

Written by: David Lynn

About the author:

David was born in Belfast in 1949 He has worked in the Catering business for over 30 years. He moved to Spain in 1972 and studied food and Recipes until he left Spain in 1988, to run restaurants in Ireland. 2004 - Back to Spain to Write his Recipe website and welcome guests to his Gastro Guesthouse in Periana - The Bel Limonero - in the Malaga mountains.

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Matthew said:
Sunday, January 6, 2013 @ 1:12 PM

And the chicken is whole!!!

Gary said:
Sunday, October 7, 2012 @ 10:40 PM

is it my imagination, but the recipe states 6 Cloves of garlic but the picture is showing at least 30!!!!
I am a bit confused.

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