One of the great joys in my life is having the luxury of time to leisurely flip through my favorite cookbooks to find new recipes to try. One such cookbook, by my favorite Spanish chef José Andrés, offered up a promising meal with ingredients I mostly had on hand or that that were easy to find.
The sweetness of the dried fruit and cinnamon paired with the savory stock made for a really interesting flavor profile, and the nuts added a great texture.
While the portions were just enough for a small meal for two us—with some additional sides—the recipe can easily be reconfigured for larger portions. Or larger crowds. Or both. It’s flexible that way. I’ve posted the recipe as it appeared in the cookbook, intended as an appetizer/small plate, so depending on your purposes, adjust quantities accordingly.
Chicken with Dried Fruit and Nuts
Recipe adapted from Tapas: A Taste of Spain in America
4 T Spanish extra virgin olive oil
½ lb chicken tenders (or breasts cut into strips)
1 clove garlic, smashed
½ white onion, sliced thin
8 dried apricots
2 dried prunes
1 T raisins
2 T hazelnuts, halved
1 T walnut pieces
1 stick cinnamon
2 T brandy
½ C sweet white wine
1½ C chicken stock
1 T flour, mixed in ¼ C cold water to thicken sauce (optional)
salt and pepper to taste
1 t chopped chives
Heat 2 T of the oil in a medium pan over medium-high heat. Salt and pepper the chicken on both sides and sear until nicely browned, about 2 minutes each side. Remove and set aside. Add the garlic to the pan and cook over medium heat until golden brown—only about 30 seconds—then remove. Add the remaining 2 T oil and the onions, cooking and stirring until softened and caramelized, about 10 minutes. Add a couple teaspoons of water to the pan, if needed, to keep onions from burning.
Add the dried fruits, nuts, cinnamon stick and brandy. Cook until the brandy is reduced by half, then add the wine and cook for about a minute. Pour in the chicken stock, stir, and continue cooking about 3-5 minutes. Optional step to thicken the sauce: Stir in the flour-water mixture to thicken the sauce, if desired.
Return the chicken to the pan and cook until heated through. Serve topped with chives.
Step by Step Details
Get all the ingredients together, as this meal comes together rather quickly. And while it may look like a lot of stuff here, the dried fruits and nuts will last forever.
Prep what needs prepping first so it’s ready to go. That means measuring the chicken stock, wine (don’t forget to pour a glass for the chef!), and dried ingredients, and slicing the chicken and onions.
Heat 2 T of the oil in a medium pan over medium-high heat. Salt and pepper the chicken on both sides and sear until nicely browned, about 2 minutes each side.
Remove the chicken and set aside. Add the garlic to the pan and cook over medium heat until golden brown, about 30 seconds. Then remove it so it doesn’t burn later. Scorched garlic helped nobody’s meal ever.
Add the remaining 2 T oil and then add the onions.
Cook and stir the onions until softened and caramelized, about 10 minutes. Add a couple teaspoons of water to the pan, if needed, to keep onions from burning.
And if you ignored my advice on removing the garlic, keep an eye on it and remove it if it starts to burn. When I made this I minced the garlic (because I don’t follow directions well), and ended up picking it out later as it blackened, so trust me on this step.
When the onions are nicely browned (see them on the lower right?), add the dried fruits, nuts, and cinnamon stick.
Stir it all together and add the brandy.
Cook until the brandy is reduced by half—there’s only 2 T, so this step will only take a few seconds. Then add the wine and cook for about a minute.
Pour in the chicken stock, stir, and continue cooking about 3-5 minutes.
Optional: If you want to thicken the sauce a bit, cook the sauce longer, or you can thicken it with a flour-water mixture. Stir about 1 T of flour into ¼ C of cold water, and add a little at a time to the sauce, stirring it in well, until it reaches the consistency you want.
Return the chicken to the pan and cook until heated through. Add salt and pepper to taste.
Plate the chicken, top it with the sauce and garnish with chopped chives. I served it over mashed potatoes so I had an excuse to use extra sauce. Enjoy!