My visit to Istanbul back in March 2008 has been on my mind this week. Maybe it's the time of year, but that trip's bobbed to the surface of my memories lately: the salty, cool spray while boating across the Bosphorus Strait, the Greek Oregano spilling from crevices of stone, the ancient streets, the spices, the palaces.
In an effort to recreate one of my favorite meals ever, I started searching the internet. What Turkish menus called Stuffed Lamb, apparently other recipes call Lamb and Rice. Hmm. Nothing seemed close... seemed right... until I hit upon a Rice Pilaf dish in the stupendous Bake Until Bubbly, the bible of casserole cooking. (You have to get that book.) Could this be it- my version of a favorite meal half the world away?
It is. If you're looking for something a little different to add to your chicken/rice/vegetable repertoire, may I present:
Brin's Turkish Palace Stuffed Chicken
Loosely adapted from Bake Until Bubbly, and my memory
3 cups cooked chicken breast, shredded or diced
(Leftover chicken is great here, but you could use turkey or lamb, too.)
5 T. butter, divided
1 1/2 cups long grain rice
1 t. turmeric
1/2 t. pumpkin pie spice (Really. Just go with it.)
1/2 t. ground cloves
1 bay leaf
1 t. coarsely ground black pepper
2 t. kosher salt, divided
2 carrots, peeled and chopped
3 green onions, white and green parts, chopped
2 1/2 cups hot chicken stock (or water)
1 cup baby lima beans (butter beans), fresh or frozen
Okay. Preheat your oven to 350.
Measure out rice into small bowl. Cover with cool water and leave to soak for 30 minutes. (Or, rinse in cool water for several minutes and set aside.)
Step 1- In a small skillet with heat off, mix chicken with spices, 1 t. kosher salt, and pepper. Add 2 T. butter to skillet and turn heat on medium high, stirring often until butter melts and chicken heats through, about 5 minutes. Remove from heat.
Step 2- In a dutch oven, melt remaining (3 T.) butter. Add carrots, drained rice, and the white parts of the green onion, reserving the green part for garnish. Stir for 3-4 minutes or until rice absorbs butter. Add spiced chicken mixture and cook for 30 seconds. Pour in chicken stock (or water) and baby lima beans. Add bay leaf and reserved 1 t. kosher salt to pot. Stir well.
Step 3- Cover and bake for 20 minutes. Remove from oven, place a paper towel or flour sack towel over pot, and cover again. Leave covered for 20 minutes or until rice has absorbed all the liquid.
Stir to fluff rice, garnish with reserved green onion, and serve immediately.
You can make this without a dutch oven if you'd like. Finish Steps 1 and 2 on the stove, then pour into a large casserole dish, cover tightly with foil, and bake as directed. Leave foil in place until ready to serve.
While Turkish dishes and memories might not be haunting you, I hope you'll try this exotic take on chicken and rice. Who knows... it may have you feeling like an Ottoman princess in no time, too. -Brin