Chicken, Roasted with Persian Sweet & Sour Stuffing

Dry Fruits

Dry Fruits

By Cat, February 2016 (Photo, right, from Wikimedia Commons)

See also: 1. Poultry Menu; 2. Middle Eastern Menu; 3. Herbs & Spices Menu; 4. Ancient Medicine through Food

When I was in grad school in the mid 1970s, many of my fellow students were Persian – from Iran prior to the overthrow of the Shaw. They taught me how to write my name using their ‘alphabet,’ and introduced me to many of their favorite foods. I loved what I learned about their culture.

This recipe comes from Persian tradition, using dried fruits, olive oil and a special Persian spice mix called advieh. The dried fruit provides the sweet; lime juice provides the sour; and the spices provide a bit of each flavor, plus pungent flavor.

You can use either chicken or game hen. 

Chicken, Roasted with Persian Sweet & Sour Stuffing

This recipe is adapted from our local newspaper, the Daily Inter Lake. Feb 24, 2016 issue, but is originally from Food of Life: Ancient Persian and Modern Iranian Cooking and Ceremonies, by Najmieh Batmanglij (Mage, 2011) and reprinted by Gretchen McKay in the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette. The original name for the recipe is “Sweet and Sour Stuffed Chicken,” but since I don’t want to stuff a chicken, but rather just roast the stuffing and the bird together, I’ve changed its name.

The Persian spice mix, adviehtypically includes dried rose petals or buds, cardamom, cinnamon, and cumin, all ground to a fine powder. It may also include nutmeg, saffron, sesame and/or coriander.

Although the original recipe stuffs whole chickens or game hens with the prepared dried fruits, I would rather arrange them in a pile in the roasting pan and then place chicken pieces on top (but I provide instructions for both methods; stuffed bird directions are in [square brackets].

I would also like to try mixing partially-cooked white rice with the dried fruits; they would finish cooking during the first hour of roasting when the whole dish steams under the sealed parchment/foil cover. I think more liquid (such as chicken broth, or water flavored with a bit of rosewater) would be needed, for the rice to absorb. During the last 30-45 minutes of roasting, the rice would begin to caramelize where it rests on the bottom of the roasting pan, something I learned from my Persian friends is very Persian.

I cannot find the spice mix advieh in our rural Montana community, so I will make my own, using ideas from the original recipe, The Kitchn (2), and Wikipedia (3): see Herbs & Spices: Curries, for my recipe.

The original recipe serves 6 – 8 or more; I’ve halved the recipe to serve 3 – 4.

See Testing, 2/26/16, below, for half recipe amounts, to serve 2 (1/2 chicken, or 1 game hen). That 2016 testing did not include the white rice trial I outlined above.

Ingredients & Equipment

  • Chicken:
  • Meaty pieces of 1 chicken [or whole chicken], brined; or 2 game hens, brined and butterflied [or whole]
  • ¾ – 1 ½ tsp unrefined sea salt
  • ½ – 1 tsp freshly ground black pepper
  • ¼ – ½ tsp ground turmeric
  • Filling
  • 1 Tbsp real butter
  • 1 Tbsp olive oil
  • ½ large onion, peeled and thinly sliced
  • 1 – 2 cloves garlic, peeled and crushed
  • ½ cup pitted prunes, finely chopped*
  • ½ apple, cored and chopped*
  • ½ cup dried apricots, finely chopped*
  • ¼ cup golden raisins or Zante currants*
  • ½ tsp unrefined sea salt
  • ½ tsp freshly ground black pepper
  • 1 tsp advieh, or to taste
  • ½ tsp Rapadura or white cane sugar
  • 2 Tbsp melted real butter
  • Basting mix
  • ¼ cup olive oil
  •  2 – 4 Tbsp freshly squeezed lime juice, or more, as needed
  • ⅛ tsp saffron threads (or ground)
  • ¼ – ½ tsp rosewater – don’t overdo (if dried rose is not included in the advieh)
  • a few drops of toasted sesame oil (optional), to taste
  • Equipment
  • bowl for brining
  • 12″ cast iron skillet
  • ceramic roasting pan
  • parchment paper
  • aluminum foil

*Cat’s note: if I make this again, cut way back on amount of fruit, as that much sugar is not good for me.

Method:

  1. Brine chicken or butterflied game hen, then pat dry. Mix salt, pepper and turmeric and rub chicken/hen all over with mixture. [Alternately, if using whole chicken or game hen, brine them, then rub the salt and pepper mix over inside and outside of bird(s)]
  2. Prep: peel and slice onion thinly, mince and crush garlic with side of knife blade and set aside together.
  3. Chop dried prunes, apricot, and apple and combine. Add raisins/currants.
  4. Prepare advieh spice mix, and combine with sugar.
  5. Prepare basting mixture: combine olive oil, lime juice, rose water (if using) and saffron.
  6. Preheat oven to 425°F.
  7. Drizzle olive oil over bottom of ceramic roasting pan.
  8. Make filling: Heat butter and olive oil in skillet and brown onion and garlic. Add prunes, apple, apricots and raisins, and stir-fry for 1 minute. Add salt, pepper, advieh, sugar and melted butter; stir-fry briefly, about 20 seconds. Remove from heat and place in roasting pan and pour melted butter and basting mix over. [Alternately after stir-frying mixture, set aside, to be placed in seasoned cavities of bird(s).]
  9. Roast: Place chicken pieces (or butterflied game hen) on top of the filling mixture. [Alternately, stuff seasoned whole chicken or game hens with the filling; pin cavities shut and place stuffed bird(s) in oiled roasting pan. Pour basting mix over.]
  10. Cover pan with a sheet of parchment paper, then place a sheet of aluminum foil on top and seal tight. Place in oven and roast for 1 hour.
  11. Uncover and continue roasting for 30 to 45 minutes, basting occasionally with juices in pan, until meat separates from the bone.
  12. Serve in the roasting pan or arrange on serving platter.

Serving suggestions:

Testing:

2/26/16: Made half-recipe. Used 1 large chicken breast half (cut in half again) and 4 thighs, brined. Started with rub-mix of  ⅜ tsp salt, ¼ tsp pepper, ⅛ tsp turmeric, but ended up doubling that, in order to have enough to coat all the pieces. I updated recipe to include amounts as a range. For filling, used ¼ onion, 1 clove garlic with ½ Tbsp ea butter and olive oil; ¼ c each chopped apple, dried prunes, & dried apricots, 2 Tbsp currants, ¼ tsp ea salt & pepper, 1 tsp advieh (¼ tsp each cinnamon, cardamom & nutmeg, ⅛ tsp each cumin and coriander, and pinch saffron) and  (I didn’t include ¼ tsp sugar since the dried fruits are so sweet and sugar is a problem for me); stirred in 1 Tbsp melted butter. Placed mix in oiled ceramic roasting pan; added chicken pieces on top and poured basting mix (2 Tbsp each olive oil and lime juice, 3 drops toasted sesame oil and pinch saffron. Could not get dried rose petals or rose water in the cracks between the pieces of meat and around the outer edges – the pieces completely fill the pan in a single layer. Sprinkled lightly with powdered garlic. Covered with parchment & foil. Roast: Into oven at 5:20 PM. Roasted, covered 1 hour; removed cover at 6:20 and roasted, basting (liquids are thick from the dried fruits I think), 30min more, until done at 6:50 PM. Total cooking time: 1.5 hours. Result: The flavor is orgasmic – out of this world. I served with white rice (mixed with the sauce and fruit mixture), braised kale, steamed beet, and a small side of coleslaw. However, the dish is too sweet for me, causing blood sugar issues and digestive upset. If I make it in the future, I would need to use a fraction of the amount of fruit; and I’d also like to try including the white rice in the dish, rather than as a side (see highlighted “I would also like to try” above.

References:

  1. Food of Life: Ancient Persian and Modern Iranian Cooking and Ceremonies, by Najmieh Batmanglij (Mage, 2011) and reprinted by Gretchen McKay in the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette: post-gazette.com/life/let-s-eat/2016/02/13/Let-s-eat-Sweet-and-Sour-Stuffed-Chicken/stories/201602060001
  2. The Kitchn on ‘advieh‘: thekitchn.com/persian-spice-mix-advieh-195500
  3. Wikipedia: en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Advieh

 

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