Circassian-Style Chicken with Aleppo Pepper
For the best flavour, begin preparing this dish at least two days in advance of serving; this chicken improves with time. It keeps up to a week in the refrigerator if carefully covered. Serve warm, not hot, with a simple bulgur or rice pilaf.Prep Time: 40 minutes
Cook Time: 1 hours
Total Time: 1 hours 40 minutes
- 6 pounds chicken quarters
- 2 tsp. olive oil
- 2 small onions, sliced
- 1 Tbs. garlic, peeled and chopped with salt
- Salt and freshly ground black pepper
- Pinch of saffron
- 1/3 cup all-purpose flour
- 1 tsp. Aleppo pepper, or more to taste
- Pinch of ground allspice
- 2-1/4 cups (8 ounces) shelled walnuts
- 1 Tbs. fresh lemon juice
- 1 Tbs. walnut oil
- 1/4 tsp. Aleppo pepper
- To make the chicken and sauce: Wash the chicken and pat dry. Trim off excess skin and fat.
- Heat the oil in a 5-quart casserole. Add the chicken and 2 teaspoons of the chopped garlic; sprinkle with salt, black pepper, and saffron. Cover with 1 quart water; simmer until chicken is tender. (Slow, gentle cooking helps to keep the chicken intact.)
- Meanwhile, toast the flour in a 9- or 10-inch heavy nonstick skillet, turning it constantly until it becomes a lovely light beige. Add the Near East pepper and allspice, and continue stirring over low heat 30 seconds longer. Remove from the heat.
- Skin, bone, and cut the chicken quarters into smaller serving pieces. Lightly season with additional salt and black pepper if desired. Strain the chicken broth and degrease. You should have 3-1/2 cups. Mix the remaining garlic with 1 cup of the broth and pour over the chicken to keep it moist.
- In a food processor, grind the walnuts and seasoned flour to a smooth paste. Slowly add 1 cup of the chicken broth and process until smooth. Then slowly add the remaining broth to make a creamy sauce.
- Scrape the sauce into the skillet, set over medium-low heat, and bring to a boil. Cook, stirring occasionally, 20 minutes.
- Drain the chicken pieces and place in one layer in a 9-by-13-by-2-inch ovenproof serving dish. Add 1 cup of the walnut sauce and the lemon juice; mix well. Thin the remaining sauce with water to a napping consistency and correct the seasoning with salt. Pour the sauce over the chicken. Let the mixture cool completely, cover with plastic wrap, and refrigerate for at least 2 days before serving.
- To make the red-tinted oil: Gently reheat the cooked chicken in a 350° F oven until warm. Heat the walnut oil in a very small saucepan, add the Aleppo pepper, and swirl to combine; heat just to a sizzle. Remove from the heat and allow the pepper to settle. Dribble the red-tinted oil over the surface of the dish, making decorative swirls.