Chicken with Walnuts (Çerkez Tavuğu)

This lovely dish comes from the region of the Black Sea in Turkey where a rich variety of foods exist. As I did not grow up eating this dish, when I first had the pleasure of tasting it, I fell in love with it.

This recipe is adopted from the ‘Anatolian Feast’ Turkish Cookbook by the American Turkish Association of Houston. I purchased their cookbook a couple years ago and tried numerous of recipes. An astonishing number of recipes from all over Turkey are just in one cookbook! Without exaggeration, every single recipe I have tried from this Turkish Cookbook has turned out extremely well. The people who have given their recipes to create this cookbook have a considerable number of years of cooking experience. Enjoy this delicious dish!

1 whole chicken
2 ½ cups raw walnuts
2 cups chicken broth
2-3 slices white bread (without crust)
1 large onion (quartered)
4 garlic cloves (2 sliced and 2 whole)
5-6 sprigs parsley
1 tsp olive oil
½ tsp sumac (optional)
½ tsp thyme (optional)
½ tsp paprika or cayenne
1 tsp black pepper
2 tsp salt
4 walnut pieces & a couple sprigs of parsley for garnishing

Boil the chicken in a pot that is half full of water or enough water to just cover the chicken. Add the onion, carrots, the sliced garlic, parsley, sumac, thyme, 1 tsp of the salt and half of the black pepper. Boil covered until tender. Once the water starts boiling, open the lid partially, or else the water will overflow. Turn the heat down to low until cooked. This whole boiling process should take about 40-45 minutes depending on your stove. In addition, make sure to remove the foam that accumulates on the surface of the pot. Remove chicken from the broth and let cool.

Ground the walnuts in a blender or a food processor. Soak the bread in the chicken broth for 5 minutes. Add the bread slices and the stock to the walnuts. Add the garlic, the rest of the salt and pepper. Make sure you have a smooth sauce after blending. Taste the sauce to make sure the salt and pepper are adjusted according to your taste.

Once the chicken is cooled, remove all the skin and fat. Shred the chicken meat. Place in a large bowl and add half of the walnut mixture and mix well. Place in a serving dish and pour the rest of the sauce on top.

Heat the olive oil & cayenne or paprika in a small pan. Once it starts sizzling, remove from heat and pour over the chicken with walnuts. Garnish with walnut pieces and parsley. Serve at room temperature.

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