Simmered with garlic and drizzled with smoky paprika oil, pollo en salsa de almendras is one of Iberia’s great unsung comfort foods.
Welcome to One Pot BangersBenjamin Kemper’s column, where you’ll find our freshest, boldest cooking ideas that require just one pot, skillet, or sheet pan. Busy week? We’ve got you covered with these low-effort, high-reward recipes from around the globe.
When I was 15, I won the lottery with a host mom in Madrid who had not only mastered the Spanish classics—tortilla española, croquetas, gazpacho, what have you—but improved upon a number of them. One such María Ángeles revamp was pollo en salsa de almendras (chicken in almond sauce), an Andalusian stew that, when done right, evokes the heady flavors of Moorish Spain: saffron, garlic, oregano, parsley. 
But Spanish restaurants and tapas bars often cut corners when making the dish. They’ll nix the expensive saffron, adding food coloring instead, or skimp on the (also pricey) marcona almonds in favor of bland Californian nuts. It’s a recipe for mediocrity that results in a thin, gruel-like sauce with neither spice nor soul. Not so my host mom’s version, which adds white wine for depth and sherry vinegar for tang. The first night she served it, I wiped the plate so clean with bread that I earned the nickname El Lavavajillas, “the dishwasher.”
While the chicken and aromatics in this recipe come straight from María Ángeles’ scratchpad, the pimentón oil is all me—without it, the dish goes straight to Brown Food jail. I’m all for dressing food down, but here, the crimson drizzle adds not only color but a campfire-y smokiness that knits the flavors together. Andalusian abuelas may wag their fingers at María Ángeles and me, but as M.F.K. Fisher once wrote, a good meal should “shake people from their routines, not only of meat-potatoes-gravy, but of thought, of behavior.” ¡Salud! to that.
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