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Wednesday, May 20, 2009

Circassian Chicken - Cerkez Tavugu



Circassian Chicken is a Turkish wonder that's seems to be lost in time. The dish is like an extremely nutritious and flavorful chicken salad. While it still graces the meze tables of Turkey and once graced sabbath tables in the ghettos and shettles of North Africa and Europe, it's never gained popularity in the United States. The dish, a poached chicken in a walnut sauce, was brought to Turkey by slaves from Georgia. Jews who settled in Turkey following their expulsion from Spain, adapted the dish to their dietary rules. The prohibition of cooking on the Sabbath gave rise to meals, such as this chicken, that could be made ahead and kept warm in the dying embers of the stove or fireplace. This is one of those dishes that looks much harder to do than it actually is. Years ago, the grinding of nuts was a chore, but blenders and food processors have made swift work of a once tedious task. You can have this chicken on the table in an hour. It's not expensive to make and I think you'll like it, especially if you're looking to add a "wow" factor to your meals. This is one of those dishes you should try before you die. Serve it with warm pita bread and crisp lettuce. You're gonna' like the way this tastes.


Circassian Chicken - Cerkez Tavugu

Ingredients:
3 pounds (about 6) boneless chicken breasts
1 large onion, finely chopped
3 cups water
1/2 cup lemon juice
1 cup fresh cilantro
1 cup + 2 tablespoons fresh parsley, chopped, divided use
salt and pepper to taste
1 lb. shelled walnuts, finely chopped
5 slices white bread, crusts removed, finely chopped or grated
1 tablespoon + 2 teaspoons paprika, divided use
3 tablespoons walnut oil

Directions:
1) Place chicken breasts and onion in a large skillet. Add water, lemon juice, cilantro and parsley. Bring to a boil; reduce heat and simmer, covered, until chicken is tender, about 25 minutes. Do not overcook. Remove chicken, reserving stock. Set aside to cool. Shred chicken into bite size pieces. Season to taste with salt and pepper. Strain stock and reserve.
2) While chicken cooks, place walnuts in bowl of a food processor with some breadcrumbs and 1 tablespoon paprika. Pulse to combine. Add remainder of crumbs and pulse until fine. Slowly add reserved stock and puree until stock is like a thick soup. Season to taste with salt and pepper.
3) Toss chicken with some sauce, reserving half for topping. Transfer to a serving platter. Top with remaining sauce.
4) Warm walnut oil and reserved 2 teaspoons paprika in a small pan. Drizzle over top of chicken. Garnish with reserved 2 tablespoons parsley. Yield: 6 to 8 servings.

I'm sending this recipe to dp at Blazing Hot Wok for her Regional Recipes event. The country this month is Turkey.

51 comments :

Lynda said...

What an amazing looking dish! The cilantro and walnuts together sounds different, but delicious!

ivoryspring said...

Hello Mary,

Thank you for stopping by and saying hello! I appreciate the kind comment.

WOW... you blog is simply YUMMY! I love reading your cooking posts.

xinex said...

This looks so good! I will copy the recipe and try fixing it Thanks!..Christine

Mary said...

Wendy, I'm so glad you've stopped by. I hope you'll visit often.

Mary said...

Christine, welcome to One Perfect Bite. I hope we'll se you often.

Koruklu said...

I've never heard about this dish but I really like how Turkish use wallnut in various meze. Your recipe sounds really delicious!!!

The Cooking Photographer said...

So that is walnut sauce! I'd only read about it in historical texts, and without a recipe.

Lisa said...

This does sound Spanish in origin, with the nuts and bread crumbs, almost lie a white gazpacho sauce. I bookmarked this. it sounds wonderful, exotic and intriguing - and who can't use an exciting new way to serve chicken.

Ning said...

Anything with walnuts and cilantro must surely be delicious! :)

Ann said...

Looks so yummy...and an interesting background of a dish too.

Martha said...

I will have to try this -- it does look good.

Donna-FFW said...

Oh Wow factor indeed. It looks scrumptious and bursting with wonderful flavors. Photo is perfect too!

Mary said...

Ann, welcome to One Perfect Bite. Not that you've found us I hope you'll become a regular visitor.

Allie said...

Oh my gosh I'm drooling! I wish I had this for my lunch today. Love the cilantro and walnut flavor combined.

Barbara said...

Mary, The chicken looks and sounds devine. We try to eat healthy, so I must try this dish. Will come back and read more of your recipes.

Come and visit me again.

Karen said...

I had to read the recipe a couple of times in order to grasp all the different flavors and how they might mingle. It sounds like it would be delicious!

Pam said...

I've never tried a dish like this before - it looks and sounds wonderful.

Maria said...

Love the photo!

haleysuzanne said...

This dish sounds delicious! I love the flavors of paprika and walnuts in it - this would be a hit at my house!

Fifi Flowers said...

That sounds and looks divine... I may have to try this recipe... Merci!

Lori said...

I think it sounds amazing. Good recipe pick. Now you have piqued my curiosity!

Bridgett said...

I would love to try this with the pita bread. It sounds divine!

Songbirdtiff said...

Oh my gosh! This looks absolutely wonderful. I may have to try it for a special occasion. When you mentioned that it was a Turkish dish, I just knew it had paprika. :)

Cathy said...

Leave it to you, Mary, to show us a chicken dish that is different from anything I've tried in the past and looks fantastic. I don't think I've ever combined chicken and walnuts.

The Quintessential Magpie said...

Oh, my! This looks FABULOUS! I want to dive headfirst into that goodlooking chicken! Okay, now I'm starved, and all I have here is ice cream... you've forced me to indulge! Shame! Shame! ;-)

XO,

Sheila

girlichef said...

Oh my gosh...I've never heard of this dish. It looks so comforting and delicious :D

Mary said...

Tiff, thanks for stopping by. I hope you'll stop by often.

oneshotbeyond said...

this looks succulent!

Shirley said...

Mmm, this sounds delicious. I've never tried Turkish cooking before. You've given me a new project.

Mary said...

Shirley, I'm so glad you found us. Come often, stay late :).

Leigh of Bloggeritaville said...

I am soooo going to try this recipe. Looks wonderful!!!

Mary said...

Leigh, I'm so glad you found us. Come often.

The Blonde Duck said...

That sounds really good! I've never heard of it till now!

Katy ~ said...

Your photo is truly eye fetching.

It truly looks like one perfect bite!

Fascinating blend of ingredients. I so enjoy learning about foods from other countries.

Marsha's Mpressions said...

Hi Mary,

I just had to comment on your intriguing comment on my post today. I've never heard it put that way, but it's going to make me think.

BTW, I added myself to your followers. Send those yummy dishes! Also, your grandchildren are soo cute!

Mary said...

Marsha, however we got you here were so glad you came! I'm thrilled you've become a regular.

tapirgal said...

I especially like the photo at the top of your blog, but I must say I'm hungry for the dish IN the blog at the moment. Yum!

Mary said...

Tapirgirl, I'm glad you found us. I hope you'll visit with us often.

Natashya said...

That sounds delicious, I love the liberal use of walnuts. I am, however, convinced that you choose your meals based on most interesting names. :)

Mary said...

Actually, Natasha I like the ones that are almost impossible to pronounce :) :) :).

Dianne said...

Wow! This looks great!

Anonymous said...

I don't really care for walnuts. Do you think another nut could be substituted for them? Perhaps almonds?

I've been enjoying your blog. Lots of yummy things I want to try.

Michelle

Mary said...

Michelle, I've seen versions of this recipe that use almonds or a mixture of almonds and walnuts. I can't vouch for their flavor but people do make the substitution. I wish I could be more helpful but I've only made this with walnuts.

Debinhawaii said...

I have never heard of this before but it looks amazing! I love the combination of ingredients--so delicious.

Mary said...

Deb, it's an incredible recipe. Do try it.

SallyBR said...

Just made this dish tonight for dinner.... absolutely delicious!

the sauce is so creamy, very hard to believe it has NO cream at all

the walnut and paprika at the end are the perfect final touch!

Mary said...

Sally, Thank you for reporting your results with the chicken. I'm so glad you liked it. I hope you'll visit often.

SallyBR said...

I have you in my reader, so I intend to visit as often as you post or more!

Love your site!

Anonymous said...

Thanks so much for posting this. I had found a similiar recipe in a cookbook years ago and really enjoyed how it turned out. But over the years, I've forgotten the ingredients and have tried to improvise from memory with things like garlic and cream (and had completely forgotten about the cilantro). I'm glad to see a "real" recipe for this again so I can restore my memory. I love serving this on a big platter with hummous, tabouleh, pitas, and some sliced cucumbers with dill, fresh lemon juice and olive oil. Keeps the crowd very happy. Thanks!

Bibolet said...

As Circassian, I can say that the history of this dish is a little unfair to. The dish was brought not the Georgians, but Circassians (whence comes the name Circassian Chicken) and not by slaves. By immigrants from the Caucasus, after Russia occupied the land of Circassians.
We have a lot of interesting dishes, Mary, if you are interested in other interesting dishes of Circassians people, I will be happy to share it with you:)

Anonymous said...

Being Turkish with Georgian roots, I like to point out that the original recipe does not have the herbs in the Cerkez Tavugu recipe. Regardles, it is an absolutely delicious recipe!

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