My favorite entrée at the Nut Tree Restaurant (before it closed in ‘96) near Vacaville CA was Chicken Almond. (The gift shop at The Nut Tree sold the restaurant’s most popular recipes, which is how I came by them.) This makes a good summertime recipe because it’s a one-skillet meal that cooks in a flash and won’t heat up the kitchen. I have stayed fairly close to the original recipe, but did take some liberties that I thought would enhance it, i.e., the original recipe called for French-fried blanched almonds, but I decided browning or toasting them would be better than deep frying. A few other recipe tweaks were made too, but all in all, this is that great Chicken Almond I remember so well! (Oh yeah, cashews would make a wonderful sub for the almonds!)
- 3 ounces whole almonds, blanched or natural
- 2 ½ tablespoons peanut oil, divided (I used Asian Stir Fry oil)
- 1 ½ pounds boneless/skinless chicken breasts, cut into 3/4 inch cubes
- 3/4 teaspoon kosher salt
- 2 cups coarsely chopped celery
- 2 cups coarsely chopped onions
- 1 8-ounce can bamboo shoots, drained & diced (reserve juice, see note*)
- 1 8-ounce can sliced water chestnuts, drained (reserve juice, see note*)
- 1/3 cup water*
- 8 ounces sugar peas (about 2 cups)
- 3 tablespoons soy sauce (I used reduced-sodium)
- 1 teaspoon sugar
- 1 teaspoon cornstarch
- 3 to 4 cups hot cooked rice (I used brown rice)
- NOTE: If preferred, measure reserved bamboo shoots and/or water chestnut juice to replace the 1/3 cup water
- Heat 1 ½ teaspoons of the oil in large skillet over medium low heat. Add almonds and cook, stirring occasionally until lightly browned (or toast them instead without oil.) Remove almonds from pan and set aside.
- Increase heat to medium or medium-high and add remaining 2 tablespoons of oil to pan. Brown chicken cubes in hot oil and sprinkle with the kosher salt (add additional oil if needed to prevent sticking.) Add celery, onions, bamboo shoots, water chestnuts and water (or reserved juice.) Cover, reduce heat and cook about 7 minutes.
- Scatter sugar peas on top; cover and cook 5 minutes longer.
- Stir together soy sauce, sugar and cornstarch; add to skillet stirring until slightly thickened and glazed, about 1 minute.
- Spoon into serving dish and sprinkle with toasted almonds. Serve with cooked rice and additional soy sauce as desired.