Pollo en Pepitoria “Kinda” – Really Chicken in a Saffron, Fino & Hazelnut Sauce

Pollo en Pepitoria - My Way

Usually if I’m trying to make an authentic dish, I always try to make it just that – authentic. That means that I want to use traditional ingredients and I attempt to research the many traditional ways to make that specific dish. I then decide how to combine the best bits from all those traditional recipes and create one recipe. Well, this traditional, old Castillian dish is always made with almonds – more specifically the beautiful Marcona almonds which are bigger and sweeter and more delicious (to me) than the almonds we know here in America. As Penelope Casas writes, “(Pollo en Pepitoria) combines all of the ingredients most often associated with Spanish cooking – garlic, saffron, sherry and almonds – into an unusually savory sauce.” DOH! As I began cooking, I could have sworn I had a fresh bag of almonds to work with only to find that it was a bag of fresh hazelnuts. Could I swap? Yeah… could I call it authentic on my blog… nope. What I can tell you is substituting hazelnuts in this dish for almonds does not actually change the flavor all that much. But the thing that I really decided to do to completely different from the traditional dish was to actually coat the pieces of chicken in hazelnuts and lightly saute them until crispy on the outside and finished them in the oven to keep it moist inside. You all like it moist, right? But, dear readers, you must know that traditionally you would just roll pieces of chicken with the bone in in some seasoned flour and saute them just like that in olive oil.

So, do I have a right to really call this dish Pollo en Pepitoria? Probably not. Do I hate when idiots like Rachael Ray and Sandra Lee completely remake an authentic classic an continue calling it by it’s authentic name but it doesn’t even resemble the original dish? YES. Am I being a bit of a hypocrite right now – uh-huh. Do I care? Not really. It’s only because I’ve been wanting to post this recipe for about 2 months now and it’s 75 degrees and sunny and I want to get outside. Creative juices ain’t a-flowing.

So here’s Pollo en Pepitoria “Kinda”. That’s as creative as it’s gonna get today, kids. Have a beautiful weekend!

If you’re interested, please check out one of our favorite blogs about Spain, all things Spanish and life in Spain – Notes from Spain – a few years ago they posted a recipe for Pollo en Pepitoria.



  • 6 boneless, skinless chicken breasts
  • 1 cup flour (seasoned with a bit of salt)
  • 2 eggs, beaten + tablespoon of water
  • 1 1/2 to 2 cups chopped hazelnuts (to coat chicken) + 1/4 cup of finely ground hazelnuts (to add to sauce)
  • olive oil or vegetable oil
  • 1 onion, chopped
  • 2 cloves of garlic, minced or sliced
  • 1 carrot, chopped
  • 1/4 cup of dry sherry (fino)
  • 1 bay leaf
  • 3/4 cup chicken broth
  • pinch of fresh grated nutmeg
  • pinch of saffron
  • salt and pepper
  • Optional: 2 hard-boiled eggs, chopped, for garnish

What to do:

  1. Heat your oven up to 425 degrees and season your chicken breasts with salt and pepper.
  2. Make sure you slightly crush or run a sharp knife through your hazelnuts (the 1 1/2 to 2 cups called for to coat the chicken) in order to make sure they are able to stick to the chicken breasts. Have your ‘coating station’ ready by putting flour on the first plate, the beaten egg mixed with water on the second plate and the chopped hazelnuts spread out on the third plate.
  3. Heat up about 1/4 inch of oil in an oven-safe pan or skillet on medium heat. Dip each chicken breast first in the flour (dust off any major excess), then the egg and finally roll around in the crushed hazelnuts. Add to your hot oil and cook on each side for about 1 to 2 minutes on each side. You want the hazelnuts to seal on to the chicken, but not to burn. Check after a minute and then, if necessary, continue to saute for another 30 seconds or so. If there’s not enough room in your pan to cook all the chicken breasts at once (don’t overcrowd!!), do it in batches and just reserve the chicken on the side until all are sauteed.
  4. When the chicken has been cooked on both sides and the hazelnuts have adhered, put in your 425 degree oven and allow to cook for another 10-13 minutes, depending on the thickness of your chicken. If the chicken is done before you sauce, just remove from oven and allow to chill out on the side for a bit. It’s ok if it gets cool.
  5. Hazelnut Crusted Chicken for Pollo en Pepitoria

  6. Make your sauce by adding the chopped onion, garlic and carrot to some olive oil in a pan and allow to saute on medium to medium-low for about 4 or 5 minutes till they get a bit soft.
  7. After they cook till they are a bit softer, add your fino and scrape up some of the bits on the bottom of the pan. After about a minute, add your chicken broth, nutmeg, saffron, bay leaf and a pinch of salt and pepper. Simmer for 10 minutes.
  8. Pollo en Pepitoria - Making Sauce

  9. While the vegetables are busy getting soft, in a blender or food processor (or with a good old mallet), blitz the 1/4 cup of hazelnuts till finely ground… I mean finely kids! Remove to a bowl until they are needed.
  10. Optional: Boil two eggs for 8 minutes to hard-boil. When done, remove and place in cold water, allowing them to cool. De-shell and chop up for the garnish.
  11. When 10 minutes or so has passed and you’ve tested the carrots for softness, REMOVE THE BAY LEAF and add everything from the pan to a blender or food processor. Blitz this mixture until smooth. Add the blitzed sauce back to the pan and keep warm on low-medium heat. Add the finely ground hazelnuts to the sauce and stir in – this will act as a thickener.
  12. Sauce for Pollo en Pepitoria - My Way + Pollo en Pepitoria - Sauce

  13. Add your hazelnut-coasted chicken breast to the sauce and place back in your oven for 4 minutes to allow the chicken to come back to temperature if necessary. When it’s out of the oven, sprinkle the top with the chopped hard-boiled egg and enjoy!

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21 thoughts on “Pollo en Pepitoria “Kinda” – Really Chicken in a Saffron, Fino & Hazelnut Sauce

  1. OMG, this sounds really, really good! I have never had this Spanish dish, but it sounds like something I’d love. It might not be “authentic” but it certainly looks great. I hate it when people change a recipe completely and still call it by the original name. Since when a salsa casserole is “enchiladas”??? Hehehe

  2. This looks delicious! I have the same issue with people who totally change a dish and give it the same name, but at the same time I also like to play around ingredients and recipes, and “Chicken in a Saffron, Fino & Hazelnut Sauce” doesn’t sound nearly as interesting as “Pollo en Pepitoria”. So I guess what i really take issue with are people who don’t know how to cook (like the TV stars you mentioned) messing up perfectly good recipes.

  3. Wow. This looks incredible! ๐Ÿ™‚ I totally agree with the commentary about completely changing a dish and still calling it the same thing…I’m all for creative license, though. Your changes sound delicious, authentic or not. I popped on over to “Notes” the other day…great site! ๐Ÿ™‚ The bullfight discussion is interesting—it’s so weird, here in Las Palmas, we don’t have that tradition at all.

  4. Although this may not be 100% like the original recipe (and I don’t know anything about the original recipe), I’d wager it’s more authentic than putting veal meatballs in a soup and calling it osso bucco.

    This really does look delicious. I love hazelnuts and almonds, so I could see going either way on this. By the end of the night I can start cooking dinner every night again, so this one will go on my list.

  5. Good read and informative…this dish is news to me and a delight to gawk at.

    I think you should be careful about dissing Rachel or Sandra Lee…they might ultimately piss you off and knock off one of your dishes with the usual short cuts….BWUWAHAHAHAHAH! lol

  6. This looks fantastic!
    Definitely something I’ll be making soon. Thanks for giving me some more Spanish inspiration.
    (lately I’ve been cooking a lot of Spanish dishes and loving every one!)

  7. i mean – i’d call this the most honest of errors. and really, isn’t that often the way things get discovered? the hazelnut substitution could have blown you away and then word could have gotten out and then you’d be a well loved national hero of spain for generations to come and have a boulevard named after you.

    you were so close…

  8. ben: Ha haha! you’re gonna have to even explain what a salsa casserole is… i know i like enchiladas, but salsa casserole? not sure.

    canary girl: have i mentioned you’ve got a great blog? and i’m jealous of where you live. you’ll notice that i often show displays of jealousy to many in the blog-o-sphere! it’s a bad trait… but, if you live in france, spain, italy or anywhere warm, i kind of secretly hate you. but love you at the same time. someone help me.

    hey pixie!! long time no hear! great to see your name! the heat wasn’t long-lasting, unfortunately… which is why i am jealous of canary girl!

    rachel: you almost made me barf in my mouth a little when i read the words “veal meatballs in soup” and “ossobucco” in teh same sentence. this has to be a ray-ray concotion, right???!!! if you give this a try i’d be totally happy!

    nobel pig, lou lou and kevin: gracias!! muchas gracias!

    kitchen goddess, i’m curious – why no eggs? allergic? hate them? smell funny?

    peter: don’t you DARE curse me like that!!! you’re mean.

    and claudia: i’m now going to go jump off the highest thing I can find right now, i’m so depressed. you’re right! luckily for you, the highest thing i can find is the table on my porch – but i’m still fucking jumping!!! don’t try and stop me. my life is now over!

  9. Cooking is like jazz; improvisation is its lifeblood. Substitution does not make you a hypocrite, or anything like the Rachael Ray. It makes you a cook.

  10. right on, peter. much agreed.

    my main point was with calling a historically old, cultural dish by it’s authentic name when the recipe is completely different from the original. That’s why I put “kind of’ on the end of it. I’m sure a spanish food purist would agree that i should not call this dish pollo en pepitoria!

    Cooking is like jazz… that’s very beautiful… honestly! i’m seriously not being my normal sarcastic self!

  11. Since I became a SUBSCRIBER to your blog, I sometimes forget to actually drop by and say hello.

    Also, I don’t know how many of my recipes are “a take on” a real, classic dish. Shooting from the hip is how our kitchen and our cuisine evolves.

  12. Truly authentic or not, I find this dish intriguing and definitely a new idea to me–I love hazelnuts, but I have a total mind blockage when it comes to using them outside of dessert/baking. Also, I always figure if we all posted 100% authentic dishes, the food blog scene could get boring and repetitive very quickly anyways. ๐Ÿ˜‰

  13. This looks amazing! How wonderful that you had to substitute something & ended up with this great dish – I love it! Hope you enjoyed the sun.

    xoxox Amy

  14. I hate when I plan to cook a traditional recipe and one of the ingredients is missing… but then, your “kinda” Pollo looks fantastic to me!!!! And cooking is about trying and failing and succeding… so maybe you improved the recipe!!!!

    Have to check about this Spanish Site, didn’t know about it. Thanks!

  15. I made this for my first post-show meal. Very yummy. I adore hazelnuts and for the time being, they don’t cause any allergic reactions.

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