Spanish-Style Braised Chicken and Almonds

The rich flavor and consistency of this classic Spanish dish depends on a sherry-based sauce thickened with almonds.

Spanish-Style Braised Chicken and Almonds
SERVES 8
WHY THIS RECIPE WORKS Pollo en pepitoria is a classic chicken dish from Spain’s saffron-producing Castilla–La Mancha region that has a sherry-based sauce thickened with ground almonds and egg yolks. To balance the richness of the nuts and hard-cooked yolks in our version, we brightened the lush sauce with canned tomatoes (more consistent year-round than fresh tomatoes) and a little lemon juice. Adding some of the braising liquid to the nut mixture when we blended it to make the sauce helped it puree thoroughly but still retain a pleasantly coarse consistency. Chicken thighs are fully cooked when they reach 175 degrees, but we purposely overcooked them—and did it slowly—which allowed collagen in the meat to break down into gelatin, making the meat ultratender. We finished our dish with a sprinkle of chopped egg white. Any dry sherry, such as fino or Manzanilla, will work in this dish. Serve with crusty bread.

8 (5- to 7-ounce) bone-in chicken thighs, trimmed
Salt and pepper
1 tablespoon extra-virgin olive oil
1 onion, chopped fine
3 garlic cloves, minced
1 bay leaf
¼ teaspoon ground cinnamon
⅔ cup dry sherry
1 cup chicken broth
1 (14.5-ounce) can whole peeled tomatoes, drained and chopped fine
2 hard-cooked large eggs, yolks and whites separated, whites chopped fine
½ cup slivered almonds, toasted
Pinch saffron threads, crumbled
2 tablespoons chopped fresh parsley
1½ teaspoons lemon juice

1. Adjust oven rack to middle position and heat oven to 300 degrees. Pat chicken dry with paper towels and season with salt and pepper. Heat oil in 12-inch skillet over medium-high heat until just smoking. Brown thighs, 5 to 6 minutes per side. Transfer thighs to plate and pour off all but 2 teaspoons fat from skillet.
2. Add onion and ¼ teaspoon salt to fat left in skillet and cook over medium heat until just softened, about 3 minutes. Stir in two-thirds of garlic, bay leaf, and cinnamon and cook until fragrant, about 1 minute. Stir in sherry and cook, scraping up any browned bits, until sherry starts to thicken, about 2 minutes. Stir in broth and tomatoes and bring to simmer. Nestle thighs into skillet, cover, and transfer to oven. Cook until chicken registers 195 degrees, 45 to 50 minutes.
3. Using potholders, remove skillet from oven. Being careful of hot skillet handle, transfer thighs to serving platter, discard skin, and tent loosely with aluminum foil.
4. Discard bay leaf. Transfer ¾ cup cooking liquid, egg yolks, almonds, saffron, and remaining garlic to blender. Process until smooth, about 2 minutes, scraping down sides of jar as needed. Return almond mixture to skillet along with 1 tablespoon parsley and lemon juice. Bring to simmer over medium heat and cook, whisking frequently, until sauce has thickened, 3 to 5 minutes. Season with salt and pepper to taste. Spoon sauce over chicken and sprinkle with remaining 1 tablespoon parsley and egg whites. Serve.

Braised Chicken with Mushrooms and Tomatoes
SERVES 8
WHY THIS RECIPE WORKS Classic chicken cacciatore , an Italian stew that includes earthy mushrooms, tomatoes, and red wine, should boast moist meat and a silken, robust sauce. Too often, though, the chicken is dry and the sauce greasy and unbalanced. Using chicken thighs and removing the skin after rendering the fat solved the problems of dry meat, soggy skin, and greasy sauce in our Italian-inspired braise. Cooking the chicken in a combination of red wine, chicken broth, and diced tomatoes, seasoned with fresh thyme, yielded moist, well-seasoned chicken. Portobello mushrooms gave the dish a meatier flavor, and fresh sage, to finish, highlighted our braise’s woodsy notes. The Parmesan cheese rind is optional, but we highly recommend it for the rich, savory flavor it adds to the dish.
8 (5- to 7-ounce) bone-in chicken thighs, trimmed
Salt and pepper
1 tablespoon extra-virgin olive oil
1 onion, chopped
6 ounces portobello mushroom caps, cut into ¾-inch pieces
4 garlic cloves, minced
2 teaspoons minced fresh thyme
1½ tablespoons all-purpose flour
1½ cups dry red wine
½ cup chicken broth
1 (14.5-ounce) can diced tomatoes, drained
1 Parmesan cheese rind (optional)
2 teaspoons minced fresh sage

1. Adjust oven rack to middle position and heat oven to 300 degrees. Pat chicken dry with paper towels and season with salt and pepper. Heat oil in Dutch oven over medium-high heat until just smoking. Brown thighs, 5 to 6 minutes per side. Transfer thighs to plate and discard skin. Pour off all but 1 tablespoon fat from pot.
2. Add onion, mushrooms, and ½ teaspoon salt to fat left in pot and cook, stirring occasionally, until softened and beginning to brown, 6 to 8 minutes. Stir in garlic and thyme and cook until fragrant, about 30 seconds. Stir in flour and cook for 1 minute. Slowly whisk in wine, scraping up any browned bits and smoothing out any lumps.
3. Stir in broth, tomatoes, and cheese rind, if using, and bring to simmer. Nestle thighs into pot, cover, and transfer to oven. Cook until chicken registers 195 degrees, 35 to 40 minutes.
4. Remove pot from oven and transfer chicken to serving platter. Discard cheese rind, if using. Stir sage into sauce and season with salt and pepper to taste. Spoon sauce over chicken and serve.

 

 

Meat & Poultry

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