Walnut Baked Parmesan Chicken
Utilizing nuts in savory cooking is not new, it can be traced back to the Roman Empire. They used pine nuts and walnuts to make sauces sweetened with honey that accompanied different cuts of meats. In fact throughout history to date many countries use nuts in food preparation, they are present in abundance in the Turkish and Levantine cuisine. They are added to appetizers, soups, main dishes and desserts either whole, ground, flaked or fried. I was bewitched by the Georgian rolled aubergines and grilled peppers stuffed with a creamy garlicy walnut paste eaten with fresh bread, my friends and I never tired of it. The Indian cuisine also relies heavily on nuts, they are used in curries, biryani, kulfi and desserts especially ground cashews and almonds. South East Asian cooking and African cooking also incorporate them in their daily dishes.
To me the beauty of cooking this chicken with ground walnuts is the robust depth, density and lush sophisticated creamy texture they add without overpowering any star ingredients, I prefer using nut creams to dairy creams in my savory cooking for those reasons.
Nuts in particular walnuts are rich in monounsaturated and polyunsaturated fats (PUFAs) that are good for the brain function, rich source of protein, a high source of Omega 3, iron, zinc, calcium, vitamin E and B.
- 750 grams boneless, skinless chicken thighs
- 1 medium onion, chopped
- 5 cloves garlic, minced
- 60 smoked Havarti cheese
- 7 tablespoons grated parmesan cheese
- 1/2 teaspoon marjoram
- 1 recipe chicken velouté
- 150 grams mushroom, sliced thin
- 1/2 teaspoon mustard powder
- 4 teaspoons cider vinegar
- 80 grams ground walnuts
- 50 grams grated parmesan cheese
- 1 teaspoon fresh rosemary, chopped
- 4 tablespoons olive oil
* Preheat oven to 180c fan setting.
* Mix 50 grams of parmesan cheese with the marjoram and set aside, then mix the other 50 grams of parmesan with chopped rosemary and set aside.
* Place the chicken thigh on a plate and put 1 teaspoon of the marjoram parmesan mix and a small piece of the smoked Havarti as seen in the picture, roll it and secure it with a cocktail stick. Repeat the process until all chicken is finished.
* Sear the chicken in the olive oil turning for a few minutes then transfer to a plate.
* Add the sliced onions to the pan and sauté for 1 minute then add the minced garlic and sauté for a further minute.
* Add the cider vinegar, velouté, mustard powder, black pepper, mushrooms, ground walnuts and the chicken to the pan mix and adjust the salt. Bring to a boil then place the ovenproof pan in the oven uncovered. If your pan is not oven proof transfer the chicken to an oven proof casserole.
* Bake for 25 minutes if you thighs are medium sized then remove from the oven and top with the rosemary parmesan mix and return to the oven again for another 5 minutes just to melt the cheese.
* You can substitute chicken breast for the thigh but make sure to slice it in half horizontally for ease of rolling.
* For a vegetarian option make a vegetable veloute and add thinly sliced grilled aubergines rolled with the cheese.
* Any good quality melting cheese can be used.
* This dish can be prepared beforehand then stored in the fridge until ready for the oven. Allow an extra 8 to 10 minutes in the oven as the dish is cold.
* Serve with mashed potatoes, polenta or any carb you fancy but I love to eat with fresh baguette.
Per Serving (excluding chicken velouté): 512 Calories; 32g Fat (55.5% calories from fat); 50g Protein; 7g Carbohydrate; 2g Dietary Fiber; 113mg Cholesterol; 496mg Sodium.