Monday, November 14, 2011
Persian Fried Chicken
The Valley of the Fairy Chimneys
From the kitchen of One Perfect Bite...This is an absolutely wonderful dish that I first sampled while we were in the Valley of the Fairy Chimneys in Turkey. The dish is actually Persian, but I had the good fortune to have a cooking instructor whose husband was Iranian and she often prepared this chicken for him. Working on the assumption that all Americans love fried chicken, she also made the dish for us. Strangely, despite requests, she refused to share her recipe with us. Her rationale was that the dish was Persian and we had come to her kitchen to learn Turkish cooking. Her logic may have been convoluted, but her resolve was a straight as an arrow and she refused to be swayed. After the fact, I realized that her language skills were limited and that while she spoke English, she couldn't write it. Her wonderful recipes had been translated for us by someone else and her refusal was not as arbitrary as I first had thought. I so liked the chicken that I refused to give up on it, and, once home, began to search for something like it. Thanks to Google and The New York Times I've found it and can now share the recipe with you. I think you, too, will love the dish. The chicken is very easy to prepare, but it is a bit pricey and requires some advance planning. The chicken must marinate for several hours before it can be cooked and the marinade contains that costliest of spices, saffron. I promise the wait and cost are worth it, and as long as you don't serve it every week, I think a good case can be made for an occasional caloric splurge. Here's the recipe. Enjoy and hold onto your socks!
Persian Fried Chicken...from the kitchen of One Perfect Bite courtesy of The New York Times
1/2 teaspoon saffron
2 cups plain whole-milk yogurt
1 tablespoon chopped garlic
2-1/2 pounds boneless, skinless chicken thighs
2 cups flour
2 teaspoons paprika
1 tablespoon dried mint
1 tablespoon salt, more for sprinkling
1/2 teaspoon black pepper
Oil for frying
1 cup walnut pieces
1 lemon, cut into wedges
1) In a small bowl, combine saffron with 1 tablespoon water and let soak 10 minutes. Place in food processor with yogurt and garlic and purée until smooth and yellow. Place chicken in glass or ceramic bowl; pour yogurt mixture on top, turn to coat; cover and refrigerate at least 3 hours or overnight.
2) In a medium bowl, combine flour, paprika, mint, salt and pepper. Heat a generous half-inch oil in a deep skillet over medium heat. Drop in a bit of bread to test temperature; oil should bubble vigorously. Working in batches to avoid crowding, dredge chicken pieces in flour mixture, then fry until golden brown on both sides, about 7 minutes a side. Remove and drain on paper towels.
3) Sprinkle with salt and serve immediately, topped with walnuts and lemon wedges. Yield: 6 servings.
***The photo of the Fairy Chimneys was taken by Dick Wolfe who traveled with us throughout Turkey. He is a great photographer and an even better companion. Thanks Wolfie :-)***
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