Last week we went to a friend’s house armed with rakes and boxes, and collected several bushels of walnuts that had fallen from a tree in her back yard. We’ve been drying them in front of the woodstove a box at a time with plans to crack them all in the next week or two and stash them in the freezer for baking and eating this winter.
The other day I was trying to figure out what to make for dinner with the chicken breasts I had thawing. I grabbed my battered copy of Mark Bittman’s The Best Recipes in the World and on a hunch checked the index for walnuts. I was expecting to find a Chinese recipe, but instead happened upon an utterly lovely one from the middle east.
Chicken with Walnuts and Raisins
Makes: 4 servings
Preparation Time: 45 minutes
This is an ancient dish made almost everywhere that nuts and grapes are grown. We served it over buttered rice, which made absolutely wonderful leftovers the next day.
- 2 tablespoons olive oil
- 3 bone-in chicken breasts (or 6 thighs)
- 1 large onion, sliced
- 2 cloves garlic, peeled and minced
- 1 cup dry white wine (or chicken broth)
- 1 cup chicken broth
- 2 tablespoons cornstarch
- 1 cup walnuts, roughly chopped
- 1 cup raisins
- Salt and black pepper to taste
- 1 tablespoon lemon juice
Cut each chicken breast into two or three pieces for better serving sizes and faster cooking, removing skin and excess fat as you cut. Put oil into a heavy cast-iron skillet and heat to medium high. Add chicken pieces and brown well, rotating and turning pieces as necessary, about 10-15 minutes. When meat is mostly browned, add salt, pepper and minced garlic, cooking a few minutes longer and allowing the garlic to brown alongside the chicken. Transfer the chicken to a plate as it browns.
Reduce the heat to medium and add onion. Cook, stirring occasionally, until onion softens and begins to brown, 5 to 10 minutes. Add wine and chicken broth and let it get hot. Add nuts and raisins and return chicken to pan. Cover and turn heat down to low. Cook until chicken is done, about 15-20 minutes more. Mix in lemon juice. Taste and add more salt and pepper if needed. Serve immediately over rice or with bread.