Sunday, July 28, 2013

Needs tweaking--almond chicken

I've wanted to make today's recipe for a while. It reminded me vaguely of a korma, but garlicky. I've also never made a recipe where bread was part of the sauce.

I actually planned to make this last week, but forgot a few crucial items with the groceries.  Here's the list of ingredients:

  • 4 T olive oil, divided
  • 1/2 cup slivered almonds
  • 2 cups cubed crustless white bread
  • 2 cups low-sodium chicken broth
  • 2/3 cup dry sherry or white wine (I used the latter)
  • 1/2 t freshly ground black pepper (plus more for seasoning)
  • 1/2 t saffron (the recipe says optional, I disagree)
  • Kosher salt
  • 4 chicken legs --thigh and drumstick. I ran into a bit of a problem here. My grocer sells chicken legs in packages of six. I bought a whole chicken, cut up.
  • 1 onion, minced (I used one about the size of a softball)
  • 1 T chopped flat-leaf parsley

and the directions:

Heat 3 tablespoons olive oil in a large heavy pot over medium heat. Add almonds and stir until golden brown, about 3 minutes; 

This recipe, all throughout, runs hot. I scorched the almonds on my first attempt, even though I was stirring constantly. The second batch, on low heat, were much better.

Transfer to paper towels. Place 1/3 cup almonds in a blender or food processor. Set aside remaining almonds for garnish. 
Add bread cubes and garlic to same pot. 
Cook, stirring frequently, until bread is golden brown and crisp, 4-5 minutes.  I think I cooked it a little longer than that. A piece of bread escaped the transfer to the blender. It was delicious.

Using a slotted spoon, transfer to blender. Add broth, Sherry, 1/2 teaspoon pepper, saffron, if using, and a large pinch of salt; process until almost smooth. Set aside.

I used the "mix" setting on my blender.

Heat remaining 1 tablespoon olive oil in same pot over medium-high heat. Season chicken with salt and pepper. Add to pot and cook, turning down heat if needed to prevent burning, until chicken is golden brown on all sides, about 12 minutes total (this step is just to brown the skin). Transfer chicken to a plate.

This step, in my not so humble opinion, needs a little more olive oil and slightly lower heat. My darling Nexx also thinks the skin should be crisp, not just brown, so we're trying that next time.

Add onion to pot; cook, stirring often, until onion is caramelized around edges, about 6 minutes. 

Um . . . no. You can't get anywhere close to caramelizing onions in six minutes. Also, the liquid in the onions has a bit of a deglazing effect on the pan. Figure at least fifteen minutes to get them to the desired state.

Add sauce and chicken to pot, pushing down chicken to submerge. Bring sauce to a simmer, cover, and reduce heat to low. Simmer until chicken is just cooked through, about 20 minutes. Season to taste with salt and pepper.
Divide chicken and sauce among bowls. Garnish each serving with reserved almonds and chopped parsley.


I served this with green beans and the rest of the bread that I used for the cubes. I wasn't 100% in love with it, though I tasted a lot of potential. My main complaint is the sauce was too heavy on the chicken flavor and it overpowered the almonds and garlic. I really only tasted the saffron halfway through my second helping. 

So next time:  more almonds, probably more garlic, crispy skin, maybe a touch more wine (Nexx disagrees), and a little bit of time to reduce the sauce before eating.

If you tweak, do let me know.