The Good Woman’s Chicken

This chicken recipe, with its delicious, slightly sweet sauce, orange segments, mushrooms, brandy and a hint of saffron, comes from the Andalusian province of Almeria, Spain. Curious title? Yes, and you might begin to question if you’re a good enough woman (or man) to make this dish. Throw caution to the wind my friends, no one will be judging you…


Spanish translation is Pollo A La Buena Mujer (it also exists in French cooking as bonne femme). We happened upon it in La Cocina de Mama, a favorite Spanish cookbook from chef/author author Penelope Casas. According to Penelope’s intro, even Spain’s greatest chefs in their leisure time prefer the dishes passed down to them by their mamas and yayas. All of the book’s recipes are invariably simple and down-to-earth from home cooks all over Spain, as is this one.

As you know, we often make alterations to existing recipes, and we did some minor ones here. Given the fact that white meat tends to come to temperature before the dark does, we start cooking the legs, thighs and wings first. Then after 10 minutes, we add the breast pieces on top of the dark meat, but not submerged into the liquid, where they would cook faster. We first came across this method from another favorite chef, Molly Stevens, and it has worked well for us.

Other changes included slightly increasing the amount of garlic and mushrooms; and using a somewhat larger chicken than the 3 lb. bird indicated in the original recipe. All of these changes are in the recipe below.

Please note, all your past transgressions are overlooked, so go ahead and make the “Good Woman’s Chicken”.

The Good Woman's Chicken

  • Servings: 4
  • Difficulty: easy
  • Print


  • 1, 3 1/2 to 4 lb. chicken
  • Kosher or sea salt
  • Freshly ground black pepper
  • 2 Tbsp. olive oli
  • 4 garlic cloves, minced
  • 1 small onion, chopped
  • 1/2 lb. cremini mushrooms, stems trimmed away, and caps cut into 1/4″ slices
  • 3 Tbsp. brandy
  • 5 Tbsp. freshly squeezed orange juice
  • 1 small orange, peeled and divided into segments, removing as much pith as possible
  • 1/3 cup chicken broth, preferably homemade
  • 1/8 tsp. crumbled saffron threads


  1. Cut the chicken into small serving pieces, first detaching the wings and legs, then with kitchen shears, cutting the breast into 4 pieces, and each thigh in half crosswise.
  2. Sprinkle chicken pieces with salt and pepper.
  3. Heat the oil in a shallow casserole and brown the chicken all over. You will probably have to do this in a few stages so as not to crowd the pan and steam (instead of brown) the meat. Remove the chicken to a side plate.
  4. Add the garlic, onion, and mushrooms and sauté until the onion is softened, about 5 minutes.
  5. Stir in the brandy, orange juice, orange segments, broth and saffron; scraping up any browned bits. Bring to a boil.
  6. Place the dark meat pieces nestled into the onions, cover with a lid and cook for 10 minutes reducing the heat to a rolling simmer.
  7. Turn the dark meat and place the white meat pieces on top of them, cover and cook for another 35 minutes, covered.
  8. Serve from casserole dish.

Baked rice (recipe follows) makes a nice accompaniment.

Baked Rice
Arroz al Horno

If at all possible, make this rice instead of just plain rice, you’ll be glad you did.


Baked Rice

  • Servings: 4-6
  • Difficulty: easy
  • Print


  • 2 Tbsp. olive oil or butter
  • 2 Tbsp. minced onion
  • 1 cup Valencian (or Arborio) short-grain rice
  • 1 cup chicken broth
  • 2 Tbsp. minced fresh parsley
  • 1 1/2 tsp. fresh thyme
  • A few strands of saffron, crumbled
  • Kosher or sea salt


  1. Preheat the oven to 400 degrees
  2. Heat the oil in a deep casserole, and then add the onion and cook until the onion is softened. Stir in the rice coating it with the oil.
  3. Pour in the chicken broth and 1 cup water, stir in the parsley, thyme, saffron, and salt to taste, and bring to a boil.
  4. Remove from the flame, cover, and transfer to the oven. Cook for 15 minutes, remove from the oven, and
    let sit, covered, for 5 to 10 minutes before serving.

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