Velvety Walnut Sauce Chicken or Jackfruit

This velvety walnut sauce with its unique combination of spices is a great way to break up the monotony of weeknight meals… in an hour or less!

This dish is inspired by a number of recipes I found online, most of which credited their origins to a Georgian dish called “Satsivi.” Katmis Satsivi (which roughly translates to older female chicken dish served cold… sounds better in Georgian!) is typically served at room temperature on New Years. Considering it’s still cold here in the Pacific Northwest (spring is taking her sweet time), we ate ours warm, ladled over white rice, with a side of steamed broccoli—it was delicious, comforting and satisfying!

Sauce Ingredients:
3 cups toasted walnuts
4-5 cups chicken (or vegetable) stock
1⁄2 cup minced cilantro stems (reserve leaves for garnish)
2 medium leeks, tender green parts only, cleaned well and finely chopped
1/2 cup fennel, finely chopped
2 TBL finely chopped Anaheim chile (stemmed and seeded)
Kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper, to taste

Main Ingredients:
1⁄4 cup olive oil
8 boneless, skinless chicken thighs, pounded to an even thickness -OR- 3 cans green jackfruit, drained and chopped
1 TBL sweet smoked paprika
2 tsp. ground coriander
2 tsp. ground fenugreek
1⁄2 tsp. ground cinnamon
2 TBL red wine vinegar

Optional: steamed white rice
Optional garnish: fresh pomegranate seeds

Directions:

  1. Place 3 cups walnuts and 1 cup stock in a food processor; puree until very smooth.
  2. Add the cilantro, chile, and 1 of the 2 leeks to the pureed walnut mixture, puree again until very smooth (adding a little more stock if needed) and reserve.
  3. Heat oil in a 6-qt. saucepan over medium-high heat.
  4. If using jackfruit, skip this step completely and go to step #5. If using chicken, season it with salt and pepper and add to pan; cook, turning as needed, until light golden on both sides, about 8 minutes. Push the chicken pieces to the edge of the pan.
  5. Add the one remaining leek and the fennel to the pan; cook, stirring occasionally, about 4-5 minutes until fennel is softened and starting to caramelize.
  6. Add paprika, coriander, fenugreek, and cinnamon; cook until fragrant, 1 minute.
  7. Deglaze the pan with red wine vinegar, stirring to scrape up any browned bits.
  8. Add reserved walnut sauce to the pan, along with the remaining stock, and jackfruit if using. Stir to submerge chicken or jackfruit into the sauce, and cook over medium-low heat, stirring occasionally, until chicken or jackfruit has absorbed the flavors, about 25-30 minutes.
  9. Ladle into serving bowls (over steamed white rice if you like) and garnish with cilantro leaves and pomegranate seeds.

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