Chicken in Green Almond Sauce & White Rice

Latin American Cooking

It was a busy last week for Karin, and a decidedly less busy one for me, so back-to-back posts is what happens in that situation. This book has been on our cookbook shelf for a couple of years now, after picking it up at a used book store. It’s an interesting read, with a ton of details, but all over the (Latin American) map. Sorry, even Karin will roll her eyes at that terrible pun. A lot of the recipes are quite involved and yield a large amount of food – the kinds of thing you might make for a weekend family meal, not for two busy people on a week night. But this recipe was small enough that Karin and I could eat it over the course of two meals, and it involved one of those twists that make me obsess over a recipe – a familiar ingredient taken out of it’s usual context and used in a completely different way. I’ll let you guess what that ingredient is, but suffice to say this dish was really good, and relatively painless. Timing-wise, it was easy to start the arroz blanco while the chicken cooled, so that both dishes finished at around the same time. The sauce turned out a brilliant lime green color, inadequately captured by our crappy camera:

Chicken with Green Almond SauceOne note: I used a heavy-bottomed stew pot for this recipe instead of the casserole and skillet, and it worked just fine – no need to clean more pots & pans than necessary, right?

Chicken in Green Almond Sauce (Pollo Verde Alemendrado)

Serves 4
Prep time: 20 minutes
Total time: 1 hour 20 minutes

  • 3 1/2 lb chicken, cut into pieces
  • 2 cups chicken stock
  • 1 medium onion, chopped
  • 1 clove garlic, chopped
  • 1 cup parsley sprigs, coarsely chopped
  • 1 cup cilantro sprigs, coarsely chopped
  • 1 heart of romaine lettuce, coarsely chopped
  • 1 or 2 fresh jalapeños, seeded and chopped
  • 4 ounces ground almonds (about 3/4 cup packed)
  • 3 Tablespoons vegetable oil or lard

1. Put the chicken pieces into a heavy casserole with the stock, bring to a boil, reduce the heat, and simmer gently, covered, for 45 minutes, or until tender. Lift the chicken out onto a platter and set aside. Pour the stock into a container (it will be used later). Rinse out and dry the casserole.

2. In a food processor combine the onion, garlic, parsley, cilantro, lettuce, jalapeños and almonds. Reduce to a coarse puree. Do not over blend as the finished sauce should have some texture and not be entirely smooth.

3. Heat the oil in a large, heavy skillet and pour in the puree, which will be almost paste-like because of the almonds. Cook the mixture, stirring constantly with a wooden spoon, for 3-4 minutes over medium heat.

4. Transfer the sauce to a casserole. Stir in 2 cups of stock, season to taste with salt. Add the chicken pieces, cover and simmer just long enough to heat the chicken through.

Arroz Blanco

Serves 6
Prep time: 25 minutes
Total time: 50 minutes

  • 1 1/2 cups long-grain rice
  • 1/4 cup vegetable oil
  • 1 small onion, finely chopped
  • 2 cloves garlic, finely chopped
  • 3 cups cold water
  • Salt to taste

1. Wash the rice thoroughly in several changes of water, drain and put into a bowl with hot water to cover. Let it soak for 15 minutes.

2. Drain in a sieve, letting it sit for 10 minutes.

3. Heat the oil in a saucepan, add the rice, onion and garlic and saute over low heat, stirring constantly with a wooden spoon, until the rice begins to take on a pale gold color and the oil is absorbed, 3-4 minutes.

4. Add the water and salt to taste. Bring to a boil over high heat, reduce the heat to as low as possible, and cook, covered, until the rice is tender and all the liquid is absorbed, about 20 minutes.

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