Braised Chicken Thighs with Almonds & Honey
Recipe by Sandy Sonnenfelt, courtesy of Market Hall Foods. Food styling & photography by Asha Loupy, courtesy of Market Hall Foods.
During the Jewish High Holidays, treat your family and friends to a chicken dish rich in North African and Spanish flavors. Sandy Sonnenfelt, Market Hall Foods’ director of prepared foods, developed this recipe for her family gatherings during the High Holidays. She wanted a recipe that was both easy and vibrant, so she could share it with home cooks. She notes, “My tastes run to North African and Spanish flavors, which are apparent in the spices I used.”
6 bone-in chicken thighs (approximately 2½ pounds)
1 teaspoon ground coriander
1 teaspoon spicy pimentón de la Vera (smoked Spanish paprika)
½ teaspoon ground ginger
4 teaspoons kosher salt, divided
1 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper, divided
1 cup blanched almonds (see below)
2 tablespoons mild extra-virgin olive oil
1 large white onion, finely diced (about 2 cups)
4 cloves garlic, minced
½ teaspoon saffron threads, slightly crushed
½ cup dry white wine
1½ cups chicken stock
¼ cup freshly squeezed lemon juice
¼ cup mild honey
3 tablespoons cilantro, chopped, plus more for garnish
For the chicken, mix the ground coriander, pimentón de la Vera, ground ginger, 2 teaspoons salt, and ½ teaspoon black pepper in a small bowl. Place the chicken thighs on a rimmed sheet pan or in a baking dish and rub the chicken thighs with the spice mix on both sides. Cover, refrigerate, and let the chicken marinate for at least 2 hours (or overnight).
Remove the chicken from the refrigerator and allow it to come to room temperature (about 15–20 minutes) while roasting and preparing the almonds.
To blanch almonds, place in a medium bowl, cover with boiling water, and allow to sit until the skins look loose and wrinkled, about 3–5 minutes. Drain and rinse with cold water. To peel, rub the almonds to slip off their skins. Transfer the peeled almonds to a baking sheet and allow them to dry for 5–10 minutes. Preheat the oven to 350°. Spread the blanched almonds in an even layer on a baking sheet. Bake until golden brown, stirring occasionally, about 10–15 minutes. Cool. Place half of the almonds in a food processor and pulse until they are the texture of coarse sand. Transfer the ground almonds to a bowl and set aside along with the whole roasted almonds.
In a large Dutch oven or heavy-bottomed pot, heat the olive oil over medium-high heat. Add the chicken thighs, skin-side down, and cook until golden brown on both sides, about 4–6 minutes per side. Remove the chicken thighs, transfer them to a plate and set aside.
Reduce the heat to medium, add the onions, and sauté until they soften and begin to turn golden brown, about 6–8 minutes. Add the garlic and crushed saffron and continue to sauté for about 3–4 minutes. Add the white wine and deglaze the pan, scraping up any browned bits on the bottom of the pan. Allow the alcohol to cook off, about 3 minutes.
Add the chicken stock, lemon juice, honey, reserved ground almonds, and the remaining 2 teaspoons of salt and ½ teaspoon of black pepper. Bring to a simmer, reduce the heat to medium-low, and cook for 5 minutes.
Add the browned chicken thighs back to the pot, nestling them into the sauce, skin side up. Cook uncovered until the chicken thighs are cooked through and the sauce has thickened slightly, about 25–30 minutes. If the sauce is too thin, remove the chicken thighs from the sauce, transfer them to a plate, and cover to keep them warm. Increase the heat to medium and reduce the sauce until it thickens to desired consistency, about 5–7 minutes.
To serve, stir the chopped cilantro into the sauce and then spoon the finished sauce into a serving dish. Top with the chicken thighs and finish with the reserved roasted whole almonds and more chopped cilantro, if desired.