There nothing new about chicken in a cream sauce. Tale as old as time. Chicken smothered in cream of mushroom or gravy has been happening for generations. However, it can be challenging to find recipes that involve creamy sauces made for dairy freers because, obviously most sauces include cream. Mimicking that mouth feel can be a bit challenging. Sauces can separate or be a bit watery, and the flavor can be lackluster.
This recipe challenges all that. Cashews create a dairy-free, creamy sauce that mimics any cream sauce out there (wonderful for those that cannot eat dairy). As an added bonus, it thickens up quite nicely without the addition of flour or corn starch, making it naturally gluten and grain free. A cashew cream creates a blank canvas that absorbs the flavors of add-ins beautifully. The green chiles add heat without making it unbearable, and the spices help bring a smokiness to the sauce. The end result is a creamy, perfectly spiced sauce that smothers chicken (I used boneless thighs this time) and mushrooms incredibly for an earthy, smoky, tangy balance of flavor. Serve with greens, roasted veg, or even cauliflower rice to make it a complete meal. Yu-um.
1 cup raw cashews, soaked: great source of monounsaturated fats;
½ – ¾ cup water;
1 can of diced green chiles: filled with vitamin C;
½ tsp cumin: contains antioxidants;
½ tsp smoked paprika: has vitamin A to help boost immune health;
½ tsp garlic powder: high in vitamin B6;
1 lb. boneless chicken thighs or breast: great source of protein;
6-7 cremini mushrooms, quartered: contains vitamin D and anti-inflammatory properties;
2-3 tbsp coconut oil: rich in caprylic acid which has been found to be antiviral, antimicrobial, and antifungal;
¼ cup cilantro (optional, but well worth it): heavy metal detoxifier;
¼ cup red bell pepper, chopped (optional): a vitamin C powerhouse;
Natural Salt: rich in various minerals;
For cream sauce: soak cashews for at least eight hours, preferably overnight. Drain, and give a quick rinse with cold water. Place in a high-speed blender or food processor. Add salt and ½ cup of cold water and blend on high until a thick but creamy consistency is reached. More water may be needed. Pour mixture into a bowl.
Fold in diced green chiles, cumin, smoked paprika, and garlic powder. Set aside.
Meanwhile, dice chicken into bite-size pieces. Coat a large sauté pan with coconut oil on medium heat. Add chicken, making sure to not crowd the pan. Brown on both sides. The chicken does not have to be thoroughly cooked at this point. Remove from pan. Add more oil and sauté mushrooms until golden brown.
Lower heat to medium-low. Add chicken back in the pan. Pour cream sauce into pan and completely coat chicken and mushrooms. Add water if needed. Sauce should be creamy, but not runny. Let simmer for 5-10 minutes or until chicken is no longer pink. Top with cilantro and chopped bell peppers if using.