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
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
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.