October 23, 2004

Pollo Almendrado

Chicken in Almond Sauce
Gourmet (March, 2004)

Ground almonds create texture and thicken the sauce of pollo almendrado in homage to New York's large Mexican and Central American population.

1/4 cup + 1/8 cup sliced almonds
2 skinless boneless chicken breast halves
1/2 (3-inch) cinnamon stick
1/2 teaspoon dried oregano (preferably Mexican), crumbled
1 Turkish bay leaf
1 tablespoons vegetable oil
2 bacon slices, chopped
1/2 cup chopped onion
1/2 tablespoon chopped garlic
1/2 cup low-sodium chicken broth or water
1/4 teaspoon black pepper
1/2 tablespoon chopped fresh flat-leaf parsley

Toast 1/8 cup almonds in non-stick frying pan until golden, 8 to 10 minutes.

Meanwhile, finely grind remaining 1/4 cup almonds in a food processor about 1 minute (don't grind to a paste).

Pat chicken dry and season with salt (if desired).

Heat a dry 12-inch heavy skillet over moderate heat, then toast ground almonds, cinnamon stick, oregano, and bay leaf, stirring constantly, until almonds are pale golden, about 2 minutes. Transfer to a bowl and wipe skillet clean.

Heat oil in skillet over high heat until hot but not smoking, then saute chicken, turning over once, until golden, about 5 minutes total. Transfer chicken to a plate.

Add bacon to skillet and cook over moderate heat, stirring, until bacon begins to render fat and turn golden, about 1 minute. Add onion and garlic and cook, stirring occasionally, until golden, about 3 minutes. Stir in ground- almond mixture and chicken broth and boil, scraping up brown bits, 1 minute. Stir in pepper and salt (to taste). Add chicken, turning to coat, then reduce heat to moderate and simmer, covered, until chicken is just cooked through, about 5 minutes. Stir in parsley and sliced almonds. Discard cinnamon stick and bay leaf. Serve chicken with sauce spooned on top.

Notes: This recipe adjusted for two servings (rather than the 6 in the original) -- the amount of "sauce" generated in my version would probably also work for 4 chicken breast halves, but more than that would require doubling. I toast my almonds on stove-top instead of in the oven as the magazine preferred. Personally, I wouldn't add any salt when seasoning as the bacon already provides plenty. The sauce ends up being a fairly thickly textured mix with not much liquid. This wasn't like any of the other dishes I've prepared of late (or even in recent history), and I enjoyed trying something a bit offbeat. Tasty and surprising. While it looks like it has a lot of steps, it's actually quite simple to make.

Posted by Jennifer at October 23, 2004 10:05 AM

I agree, it was both very different and very tasty. And, unlike the previous night's dinner, did not taste at all of dill. *grin*

Posted by: Michael at October 23, 2004 11:11 AM
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