During our recent travels, we spent a significant amount of time waiting in airports and sitting on planes, so there was plenty of reading time. My lovely Nook was full of about six months’ worth of Bon Appétit magazine, so I spent hours and hours of the trip scouring the issues for new recipes. For the next few months, you’ll probably see quite a few recipes on here straight out of those magazines, and this is the first that we were able to try.
The first night we were back in the house after our journey, we didn’t have much in the pantry or the refrigerator, but we wanted a healthy, hearty, home cooked meal. This is the perfect thing to whip up when you don’t have the time to run out to the store because most of the items are probably in your pantry already. Also, although this recipe is meant to serve only two people as described, you can very easily double or triple the amount of chicken and the sauce ingredients to feed more people. We almost want to call this a “curry” because there is so much of the delicious, aromatic garlic-almond sauce that you should have plenty to spoon over rice or serve in a bowl. This time around, to cut down on calories and fill up with green vegetables (which we’d been severely lacking during our trip), we skipped out on the rice, but it was a mistake. You must make this with rice! Trust us, the sauce is way too delicious to leave on a plate and try to mop up with your chicken alone. You need rice! This is a very mild flavored dish, but with each bite you take, you start to appreciate the delicious flavors of the garlic-almond sauce more and more. The chicken is also extremely succulent and moist from the long cooking time in the sauce. Delicious!
2 boneless, skinless chicken breasts, halved (~ 1 lb. total) [400 calories]
2 tablespoons olive oil, divided [240 calories]
¼ cup almonds, slivered [170 calories]
3 garlic cloves, whole
1 – 1 ½ cups whole wheat bread, crustless, cut into 1/2-inch cubes [180 calories]
1 cup chicken broth
1/3 cup sherry [67 calories]
Kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper
1 small white onion, minced
Dried parsley (optional, for garnish)
Calories per serving: 529
Heat a Dutch oven or large, heavy pot over medium heat. When hot, add 1 tablespoon of olive oil, wait until it’s nearly smoking, then add the slivered almonds. Toast the almonds, stirring frequently, for 3 minutes.
Remove almonds to a paper towel to drain, and then add 2/3 of the total amount to a blender or food processor.
Add the bread cubes and garlic cloves to the heated oil, and cook for about 4 minutes until the bread starts to turn crusty. Remove the bread and cloves from the pot, and then add to the blender/food processor with the almonds.
Add the sherry, chicken broth, a pinch of salt, and a few turns of the black pepper grinder to the bread, cloves, and almonds in the blender. Purée the mixture for about 10 seconds or until the mixture is smooth (almost becomes like almond milk). Set aside in a small bowl.
Rinse the chicken breasts under cold water, and then dry completely with paper towels. Halve the chicken breasts, as they can’t be fully submerged in the garlic-almond sauce during cooking when they’re whole. Add the remaining tablespoon of olive oil to the Dutch oven and bring the heat up to medium-high. Brown the chicken on each side, 4-5 minutes each, and then remove to a plate. The breasts don’t need to be fully cooked at this point, just nicely browned.
Add the minced onion to the Dutch oven, and splash in about a tablespoon or so of sherry to deglaze the pan. Cook the onions for about 5 minutes, until they begin to caramelize. Add the chicken breasts back to the Dutch oven, and then cover with the garlic-almond sauce. Push the breasts down so they are mostly submerged in the liquid. Bring the sauce to a simmer on medium-high, then cover the Dutch oven and lower the heat to medium-low. Cook for 30 minutes, and then check that the internal temperature of the chicken breasts is at least 165 degrees F. If not, re-cover and keep cooking until the chicken is fully cooked.
We served the chicken breasts sprinkled with parsley and the remaining toasted almonds, alongside some healthy green beans because we’d just returned from two weeks’ vacation full of good (but bad for you) food and no exercise. We boiled 1 pound of fresh green beans in 1 ½ cups of water for 3 ½ minutes, drained them, then tossed the beans with a sautéed mixture of 2 garlic cloves and 1 small shallot, each minced, and then seasoned the entire mixture with 1 tablespoon of dried rosemary, 1 tablespoon of lemon juice, and a dash of salt and pepper.
After trying this dish, we decided that it is much better served on a bed of rice. The amount of excess sauce is almost enough to serve this meal as a type of curry, with plenty of the garlic-almond sauce spooned over the rice with the chicken. The sauce is so amazing you’ll definitely want to eat this with rice so you can scoop up as much as possible.
This recipe originally appeared in the October 2012 issue of Bon Appétit magazine. We don’t normally buy bone-in chicken, and we only had breasts in the freezer, so we adapted this recipe slightly. Feel free to check out the original version here
Chicken in Garlic-Almond Sauce.