I’ve made this chicken before, and Jacob and I weren’t that pleased with it. But I figured out my mistakes, and got the opportunity to make it again with some adjustments. Did I redeem myself? YES. The chicken was tender and delicious and the sauce and veggies made me want to sing. And having some of Erin’s famous garlic bread on the side was the perfect accompaniment. So what changes did I make?
Last time, I used bone-in, skin-on chicken thighs. That resulted in soggy skin and too much fat, not to mention having to mess with that yucky bone. This time I used b/s chicken thighs, which were trimmed of extra fat and browned in my cast iron skillet.
Also, I blanched my almonds to remove the skin. I did this by dropping the raw almonds into boiling water for 30 seconds, then draining and rinsing under cool water. Once the almonds cooled, I pinched the skins and they came right off! Last time I just used regular almonds and they made the sauce gritty. Tonight, the almond paste thickened the sauce beautifully and added a rich, nutty-ness. The sauce was already awesome by itself, but I really liked what the almond paste did for the texture and taste.
I used 1 package of chicken thighs, which has 6 thighs, and down-sized the ingredients accordingly. I used 1 1/2 mini bottles of white wine and used chicken stock to almost cover the chicken. The only thing that wasn’t perfect about the dish was the pancetta. It got kind of dry and chewy, but that could have been my fault because I bought the pancetta about a week before making the dish. I wouldn’t leave out the pancetta or substitute it though, because it made the onions smell and taste amazing.
Braised Chicken with Mushrooms and Almonds (Anne Burrell)
- Extra-virgin olive oil
- 8 chicken thighs
- Kosher salt
- 1/2 pound pancetta, cut into 1/2-inch dice
- 2 large onions, julienned
- Pinch crushed red pepper flakes
- 4 cloves garlic, smashed
- 2 pounds assorted mushrooms, such as shiitake, oyster or cremini, cleaned and sliced
- 2 cups dry white wine
- 4 to 6 cups chicken stock
- 1 bundle thyme
- 4 bay leaves
- 1/2 cup whole blanched almonds, toasted
- Chopped chives, for garnish
Coat a large, wide, deep pan with olive oil and bring to a high heat. Pat the chicken skin dry with paper towels and season generously with salt. Add chicken skin side down to the pan. You should hear a big sizzle as the thighs hit the pan. Do not try to move the chicken, the skin will stick itself to the bottom of the pan and will unstick itself when it is ready. If the pan is smoking excessively turn the burner down and continue to cook. When the skin is brown and crispy, turn the chicken over and brown it on the other side. Remove the chicken from the pan and reserve.
Lower the heat if you have not already done so and ditch most of the excess fat. Add the pancetta and brown. When the pancetta has started to get brown and crispy add the onions. Season with salt and crushed red pepper and sweat over medium heat for 7 to 8 minutes. Add the garlic and cook for another 1 to 2 minutes. Add the mushrooms, season with salt and saute for 3 to 4 minutes or until they release their juices. Add the wine and reduce by half. Return the chicken to the pan. Add chicken stock to almost cover the chicken. Add the thyme and bay leaves. Bring to a boil and reduce to a simmer. Simmer the chicken for 30 to 35 minutes. Add more chicken stock, if needed.
While the chicken is cooking puree the almonds in the food processor. Drizzle in a little olive oil while the machine is running to make this a loose paste. Season with salt and reserve.
Once the chicken has cooked for 30 to 35 minutes, remove it from the pan and reserve. Taste the sauce for seasoning and stir in the almond puree. Bring to a boil and reduce to a simmer to thicken the sauce, if needed. The almond puree will help to thicken the sauce and to make it very rich.
Serve the chicken over Sauteed Haricots Verts or your favorite green vegetable. Spoon the mushroom almond sauce over and garnish with chopped chives.
UPDATE 1/12: I made this again with some changes. I wanted to combine this recipe/technique with a Porcini Braised Mushroom Thighs. I browned seasoned chicken thighs in bacon fat, then sauteed onion and eventually mushrooms, thyme, and garlic. I was softening porcini mushrooms in hot hot water at the same time. I deglazed with white wine and added the chicken back. I used the porcini liquid and a reduced beef stock/balsamic vinegar/mushroom salt sauce. I would have added chicken stock but I didn’t want to cover the chicken skin. I braised for about 30 minutes. The chicken skin stayed crispy until I let the dish cool. I was making it ahead, and I wasn’t planning on eating the skin anyway, so I wasn’t bothered. I reheated a few days later and the chicken wasn’t quite done. I removed the chicken and shredded the meat. I added it back to the pot along with a splash of cream. I wish I had thickened the sauce a little bit more but oh well. I served this on top of mashed sweet potato. 1 peeled, diced sweet potato boiled in salted water for about 10 minutes (my pieces were pretty small.) I processed the sweet potato in the food processor and added warmed milk, less than 1 tbsp melted butter, and a big spoonful sour cream. I seasoned with cayenne and porcini mushroom salt. My garnish was the sweet potato skins deep fried and sprinkled with salt. Forgot the chives though.