Friday, April 27, 2012

Circassian, Cardassian, Kardashian, or Cesarean Chicken?

It's actually Circassian Chicken, modified slightly from Hank Shaw's recipe on  Traditional Circassian Chicken is a Turkish dish, served cold, that calls for walnuts, not pecans. Which is maybe why the kids didn't quite get the name of the dish, and dinner conversation mainly revolved around whether or not the members of the Obsidian order or the reality TV Kardashian family ate this for dinner.  And finally, "So Mom, what did you say it was? Cesarean chicken? So did you have to cut this dish out of some chicken's belly?" JUST EAT YOUR DINNER!
The red pepper strips add a delightful sweet crunch.
Circassian Chicken
This meal is actually a sleeper hit, and quick to prepare. We substituted pecans for walnuts, and cilantro for parsley.  The cayenne spices things up a bit, so use a little less if you want it milder, or use a dollop or two of Greek yogurt to cut the (very mild) heat. You can serve this plain, but we loved it with toast triangles and a side of crispy Cesarean, er Cesar Salad.  Also good the next day as a chicken sandwich filling, or in a pita roll with some fresh, crisp lettuce and juicy tomato. 

2 skinless chicken breasts
4 T olive oil
4 tsp paprika
1 1/2 c chopped pecans
3 cloves garlic
2 T green onions, chopped
1 tsp cayenne pepper
3 T chopped cilantro or parsley
1 1/2 c chopped spinach
2 slices of wheat bread, preferably stale
1 quart of chicken stock
salt and pepper to taste
1/2 to 1 lemon, juiced

Bring the chicken stock to a low boil and add the chicken breasts, letting them simmer for about 10 minutes before removing from the heat.  Heat the olive oil in a small pot, and add paprika. When you can smell the paprika strongly, turn off the heat.

Cut the bread into chunks and place in bowl.  Pour 1-2 cups of chicken broth into the bowl and let it soak. In the meantime, reserve 1/2 cup pecans and set aside with green onions and 2 tablespoons of cilantro and the chopped spinach. Put the remainder of the pecans and cilantro into a food processor along with the garlic, cayenne, and the soaked bread and pulse repeatedly until it makes a thick, chunky paste.  Add more chicken stock 1 tablespoon at a time, if needed, to loosen it up.  Pour in the paprika in oil and pulse again until combines.  Add salt if needed.

Shred the cooked chicken by hand or with a fork, and add the pecan-paprika paste, as well as the reserved pecans, green onions, and cilantro.  Stir gently to combine.  Add pepper and lemon juice to taste.

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