This dish is one of the classical masterpieces of Turkish cuisine and is served on special occasions. Traditionally the walnuts were crushed between two stones, and the walnut oil was collected and drizzled over the dish. Use only the best-quality paprika and make sure that the walnuts are sweet. Though it won't give the same flavor, olive oil may be used instead of the walnut oil.
2 pounds boneless, skinless chicken breasts
3 cups chicken stock
2 tablespoons walnut oil or extra-virgin olive oil
2 teaspoons paprika
2 tablespoons coarsely chopped fresh Italian parsley
2 slices day-old white bread, crusts removed
2 tablespoons unsalted clarified butter
1 small Spanish onion, finely chopped (1/2 cup)
2 garlic cloves, minced
1-12/ tablespoons paprika
1 teaspoon ground red pepper
1-1/2 cups chopped walnuts
Place the chicken breasts and the chicken stock in a saucepan, cover it, and bring the liquid to a boil. Lower the heat and simmer gently for 15 minutes, or until the chicken is cooked. (Be careful not to overcook the chicken, or it will lose some of its flavor.) Using a slotted spoon, remove the chicken and let it cool. Reserve about 2 cups of the cooking liquid and keep the rest for another use.
To make the walnut sauce, soak the bread in a little of the reserved chicken stock, then squeeze to dry and crumble it into a small bowl. Set the bread aside. In a small saucepan, heat the clarified butter over medium heat, add the onion, and cook gently for about 2 minutes until the onion is softened but not brown. Stir in the garlic, paprika, and ground red pepper. Remove the saucepan from the heat and set the mixture aside.
In a food processor or blender, finely grind the walnuts. Add 1 cup of the reserved cooking liquid, the onion mixture, and crumbled bread. Season with salt and blend well to make a smooth sauce. If the sauce is too thick, add a little more of the reserved cooking liquid.
Using a sharp knife, shed the chicken and place the pieces in a large bowl. Add the sauce and mix well. Transfer the mixture to a serving platter.
To prepare the garnish, warm walnut oil in a small saucepan and stir in the paprika. Drizzle this sauce over the shredded chicken mixture. Sprinkle with chopped parsley and decorate with the walnut halves.
The Sultan's Kitchen
By Ozcan Ozan
Recipe Reprinted by permission.
This page created October 1999
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