CHICKEN AND SPICED RICE WITH TOASTED NUTS
Djeaj ma Riz Haswi
The literal translation of this dish is “chicken with rice stuffing.” However, most people prepare it this way. The spiced rice is simmered in chicken broth to draw out the individual flavors. Toasted nuts complete this dish. Prepare it in the morning or even the day before. The rich broth continues to tenderize the meat, enhancing the flavor.
You can prepare this dish up to 2 days in advance. Refrigerate the chicken and rice separately. Serve as directed.
For the chicken
• 1 whole chicken (about 4½ pounds; you can substitute 3 pounds split chicken breast if you prefer all white meat, the procedure remains the same.)
• 2 tablespoons apple cider vinegar
• 4 teaspoons salt
• 1 cup diced yellow onion (1-inch cubes)
• 1 rib celery (cut into 2-inch lengths)
• 1 (3- to 4-inch) stick cinnamon
• 1/2 teaspoon whole black peppercorns
• 1 teaspoon whole allspice berries
• 1 bay leaf
• 1/8 teaspoon ground cinnamon
For the spiced rice
• 1 tablespoon extra-virgin olive oil
• 1/4 pound ground beef (80% lean)
• 2 tablespoons and 1 tablespoon butter, divided
• 1/2 teaspoon salt
• 1/4 teaspoon coarsely ground black pepper
• 1/2 teaspoon ground allspice
• 1/4 teaspoon ground cinnamon
• 1/8 teaspoon ground cloves
• 1/16 teaspoon ground nutmeg
• 1 cup converted (also called parboiled) rice
• 2½ cups hot reserved broth
• 1/4 cup toasted pine nuts
• 1/4 cup toasted slivered almonds
• 1/4 cup toasted pistachios
To prepare the chicken
Rinse the whole chicken (or chicken breasts) in a large pot with 6 cups water and the vinegar to refresh the flavor of the chicken. Drain the water. Place the chicken, breast side facing up, in the same pot. Add to the pot with the chicken 12 cups of water and the salt. Place over high heat, uncovered, and bring to a boil, stirring occasionally to ensure the chicken does not stick.
Once it comes to a rolling boil, skim and discard any foam off the top. Add the next 6 ingredients and return to a boil, then reduce the heat to medium and simmer, covered, stirring occasionally, for 45 minutes.
Remove from the heat and transfer the chicken to a flat tray to cool, uncovered. Pass the broth through a fine sieve and return it to the pot (reserve all the broth). After the chicken has cooled (about 30 minutes), divide it into pieces. Remove the leg and thigh (keep them attached together as one piece, otherwise the meat will fall off the bone). Separate the whole breast from the back. Discard the back and bones. Peel and discard all the skin from all the pieces of chicken. Break each half breast into 2 or 3 pieces lengthwise. Return the pieces of chicken to the reserved broth and sprinkle 1/8 teaspoon cinnamon over the top. Cover and set aside.
To prepare the rice
Preheat the olive oil in a medium pot over medium-high heat. Add the ground meat and cook while breaking it into small, minced pieces. Once it is browned, add 2 tablespoons butter, the salt, spices, and the rice. Mix well to coat the grains of rice.
Add 2½ cups hot reserved broth, increase the heat to high, and bring the mixture to a rolling boil, uncovered. Reduce the heat to low, cover, and simmer for 15 minutes or until the moisture is absorbed. Remove from the heat and set aside covered for 20 minutes.
Fluff with a fork before serving. Meanwhile, preheat the oven to 350°F. Spread the three kinds of nuts in separate rows on a foil-lined baking sheet and toast in the center of the oven, shaking the pan occasionally, for 5 to 7 minutes or until they turn golden brown. Drizzle 1 tablespoon melted butter evenly over the nuts and mix well, coating them with butter. Transfer them to a paper towel–lined dish to cool, uncovered. Set aside.
Heat the meat and the rice. Spread the rice over a platter, then arrange the pieces of meat around the perimeter of the rice. Scatter the room-temperature toasted nuts in the center. Sprinkle some cinnamon over the pieces of meat, and serve.
Recipe from CLASSIC LEBANESE CUISINE by Kamal Al-Faqih