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