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Pitu Caleya

The 'Pitu Caleya': A gastronomic treasure of Asturias.

When we talk about Asturian cuisine’s excellence, fabada (bean stew) and cider are usually the first stars that shine in our minds. However, another protagonist deserving of a special mention is the “Pitu Caleya.” This free-range chicken, raised in the rural areas of Asturias, is more than just a simple bird; it represents a tradition, a flavor, and a story that has passed down from generation to generation.

If you’re looking to learn more about this authentic and flavorful product, keep reading.

What is Pitu Caleya?

The term “Caleya” comes from the Asturian word for “street” or “path,” which gives us a clue about its lifestyle. These chickens are raised in freedom, wandering freely through the villages, pecking and foraging for food naturally: earthworms, cereal seeds, and insects are part of their wild diet. This varied diet and daily exercise result in firmer and more flavorful meat, with a taste and texture that noticeably differ from industrial chickens. Apart from being raised without commercial feed, Pitu Caleya should also belong to the Pita Pinta Asturiana breed, although without a protected PGI (Protected Geographical Indication), these parameters are not yet defined. Their slaughter is usually determined by their size, which can reach up to 6 kilograms in weight, although they typically reach 5 kilograms at around 10 or 11 months of age, the perfect time for consumption.

What qualities does Pitu Caleya have?

Experts often comment that rather than being like chicken meat, Pitu Caleya is more similar to game meat, and they are not wrong. Its meat, reddish-black in color when cooked, gives us a hint that we are not dealing with a bird like the ones we are accustomed to eating at home. With very intense flavors, firm yet tender and succulent meat, this dish becomes a unique stew. Its yellow, intensely flavored fat will release all its taste and blend with the rest of the stew, creating an extraordinary sauce.

pollo-comiendo-hierba

How to prepare Pitu Caleya

Pitu Caleya is a true delicacy that, when cooked with care and patience, results in an unforgettable stew. It’s of vital importance to simmer it slowly and with lengthy cooking times due to the toughness and firmness of its meat and the abundant fat in its skin.

Cooked gently with onion, garlic, bell pepper, tomato, Brandy, wine, and water, the resulting dish is a delight that combines rustic flavors with the intensity of chicken meat. The key lies in patience: slow cooking allows the meat to soften and absorb all the flavors of the stew. Accompanied by potatoes from the Asturian orchard and a touch of roasted apple as a second side, this delicious recipe will make the cook proud.

But beyond stew, there’s another Pitu Caleya dish that more and more restaurants are daring to offer on their menus, to the delight of their customers. It’s Pitu Caleya rice, where the grains of rice absorb the best juices from the chicken stew, transforming it into a sublime dish that stands out from the rest. Nacho Manzano, from Casa Marcial with 2 Michelin stars, shares how they prepare it at his restaurant.

arroz-pitu-caleya

Where to eat Pitu Caleya?

  • Casa Belarmino: in addition to preparing some of the best Ham Croquettes in Spain, this restaurant in the town of Manzaneda, near Avilés, treats Pitu Caleya in an exceptional way.
  • Casa Gerardo: A must-visit for anyone who considers themselves a gastronome or foodie, this restaurant is a temple of fine dining like few others in our country. Marcos Morán prepares Pitu Caleya here in a traditional stewed form. Don’t miss trying their fabes dishes, compango croquettes, or their magnificent burnt rice pudding.
  • Casa Marcial: Located in an idyllic spot near Arriondas, Esther and Nacho Manzano now run one of the best restaurants in all of Spain. What was once the house where they were born and raised is now a temple of Pitu Caleya, fabada, and Asturian gastronomy in general, reinterpreted by these two magnificent chefs.
  • El Molín de Mingo: This former mill, not easily accessible and situated at the foot of the Picos de Europa mountains, has transformed into a wonderful eatery where you can savor a repertoire of recipes by its owner, Dulce Martínez. Among its specialties is the Pitu Caleya rice, which is truly outstanding. Currently, the restaurant offers only two tasting menus, which won’t be an inconvenience for those who decide to visit this cozy place, as the quality of the dishes is excellent.
restaurante-en-asturias

©El Molín de Mingo

El Pitu Caleya today

While less known outside of Asturias, within the region, Pitu Caleya is a star dish that is present in celebrations and family gatherings. Moreover, an increasing number of restaurants, both within and beyond Asturias, are including Pitu Caleya in their menus, recognizing its quality and uniqueness.

Producers of this magnificent poultry are making strong efforts to establish a Protected Geographical Indication (PGI) that recognizes and regulates the breeding and sale of these birds. Currently, there is a significant amount of unauthorized production within the Pitu Caleya market. The Protected Geographical Indication (PGI) system has proven to be a highly effective tool for safeguarding and adding value to certain products that, due to their quality, should bear a label certifying and guaranteeing their origin. Undoubtedly, achieving PGI status for Pitu Caleya would be a significant step that further highlights the work of its producers.

“Pleasure is the beginning and the end of a happy life”

Epicurus of Samos

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