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Circassian Chicken

Updated: May 11, 2023

Çerkez Tavuğu

Circassian Chicken is a type of chicken salad made with walnuts and bread. I remember having this for the first time at a rooftop party in Istanbul and was absolutely amazed by this dish. Originally, it hailed from the Black Sea Region, but it was quickly adopted by the Ottoman court. The recipe itself cannot be easier, albeit somewhat time consuming. However, it is well worth the effort! Here is what you need:

cook time: 1 hr

prep time: <20 minutes

serves: 4-6 with other mezze

3 boneless skinless chicken breasts

1 carrot roughly chopped

1 large onion, quartered

2 stalks of celery roughly chopped

6 cloves

1 tsp allspice

1 tsp black pepper

1/2 tsp ground cinnamon

1/2 tsp ground cloves

1 1/2 tsp coriander seeds

2 tsp salt

4 slices of day old white bread

1/3 c whole milk

1 1/2 c toasted walnuts plus a few for garnish

6 cloves garlic

torn cilantro leaves

3 TBSP olive oil

1 tsp Aleppo chili flakes OR any other red chili flake

  1. start by putting the chicken breasts in a 8qt stock pot. Add the vegetables, garlic cloves, spices and coriander seeds with enough water to cover the chicken by 1 inch. Add salt

  2. bring to a boil then drop to a simmer. Simmer for 1 hr until the chicken is fork tender

  3. remove the chicken to a bowl to cool while you reduce the stock. Reduce for 15 minutes.

  4. Meanwhile, soak the bread in milk until almost all absorbed. In a food processor or blender, pulverize walnuts with 6 cloves of garlic. Add bread and milk mixture. You will notice that it will become stiff and paste like

  5. Start adding some of the reduced stock until the mixture turns creamy and smooth. Set aside

  6. shred the chicken and toss with the walnut sauce until evenly coated. Set aside and chill in the fridge while you start the chili oil

  7. In a skillet or small sauce pan, heat the olive oil with the chili flakes on medium until they are just fragrant. You don't want to BURN your chili flakes. Your oil should turn a nice crimson color. Set aside to cool

  8. When you are ready to serve, tip your Circassian Chicken into a serving dish. Garnish with the chili oil, a sprinkle of the Izmir Spice Blend, reserved walnuts and cilantro leaves.

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