Thursday, April 7, 2011

Veggie chicken in almond and garlic sauce

Recently I expanded my cook book collection with 3 new additions on gourmet vegetarian, Japanese and Spanish cooking. I studied Spanish for 6 years but after 2 years of not using it I have to say though I'm horribly out of practise. Reading through the Spanish cookbook has not only got my drooling over most of the recipes but it think it's reignited my enthusiasm to brush up on my Spanish and start using it more.

On Mother's Day I wanted to cook dinner and decided on the recipe for pulpo en salsa de almenderas, namely octopus in almond garlic sauce, but substituted Quorn chicken pieces instead of the octopus. I also made patatas a lo pobre (poor man's potatoes) as an accompaniment and the whole thing went down a treat with my mom. I kinda wish I'd made bigger portions because it was so tastey! On a plus note though there was a lot of left over sauce, so I was able to keep it in a jar in the fridge and finish it off last night. Yum yum yum.

I reckon if you want to make this recipe vegan friendly, use pressed tofu instead of the quorn chicken pieces and the sauce should work equally well with it!

Ingredients:                                (Serves: 2 with sauce left over for another 2 servings)
Quorn Chicken pieces,

For the sauce:
Half a small red pepper,
70g of almonds, soaked in hot water to soften them,
3 garlic cloves,
125ml of vegetable stock,
2 tbsps of parsley,
40ml of red wine vinegar,
60ml of olive oil.

Potato Accompaniment:
2 large potatoes, cubed and par-cooked in the microwave
Olive oil,
1 green pepper diced into large cubes,
1 red onion diced into cubes. 

First, I prepared the sauce. I didn't have flaked almonds so I softened whole almonds in hot water for about 15 minutes. I think the flaked almonds will make a smoother sauce, so use whichever one really suits you. I also didn't have time to roast the red pepper like the recipe said to, so instead I used a short cut. I cut it into smaller chunks and fried it skin down with olive oil and a splash of red wine vinegar. I let them cook until the flesh had softened and the skins had started to blackened, then let them cool down and removed the skins. I put the peppers, softened almonds and garlic into the food processor and blitzed them together. I refreshed the dried parsley in the hot vegetable stock and added it to the purée then blitzed it again. I also combined the red wine vinegar together with the olive oil and gradually added them to the mix. I may have also seasoned it with a liberal amount of cracked black pepper, but don't feel like you have to add it if you don't want to!

Next I started on the potatoes. In the original recipe they're pretty much deep fried along with the onion and green pepper. My mom is currently on a diet though so I decided to reduce the amount of oil needed by par-cooking the potatoes in the microwave until they were soft and finishing them off in a frying pan with a little bit of oil and the green pepper and onion. A quick tip though, dry the potatoes before adding them to the pan, otherwise the oil will spit everywhere and no matter how hard you try the potatoes will stick to the bottom of the pan!

While the poor man's potatoes were cooking away I started to dry fry the Quorn chicken pieces in a separate pan. I added the sauce a little too early in the cooking process and found that it became more of a pesto-like coating pretty quickly so I refreshed it with a little hot water and added more sauce to make sure the flavour wasn't lost. So I think the sauce should be added last (or heated separately) and given just enough time to heat up before serving.


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