Thursday, June 7, 2012

Easy Arabic Stuffed Chicken

Here's a really yummy dish, and it really began as one dish which turned into two over time (using the leftovers)

What we call "mince meat rice" in our household is one of my mothers' most favourite recipes to whip up whenever she is short on time and has a bit of mince meat (ground beef) around, even the smallest amount of meat works for this dish and stretches it for a medium sized family.   Normally we serve it with yogurt on the side and kids just LOVE it!

If you make 2 cups of rice it makes a pretty big amount, I'd go with 1 or 1 1/2 cup if you have a small family or want to serve it as a side dish.

Begin with the basmati rice, Tilda is a good brand, rinse it well and let it soak in cool water.

- Minced onion (optional!)
- Mince meat (ground beef, as much as you'd like to use)   -  I used about 3/4 lb of extra lean meat.
-  Salt
- 1/8 tsp ground allspice
- 1/8 tsp ground clove
- Black pepper to taste
- 1/8 tsp cinnamon (optional)
- 1/8 tsp turmeric (I love to add it anywhere I can for health benefits!)
- 2 cardamom pods

- Boiled water or chicken/beef stock (heated)

- 1/2-3/4 cups frozen peas, pour some boiling water over them to warm up.

- 3 tbsp oil

Before beginning drain your rice and set aside, and boil your kettle.

In a medium sized pot add the oil, heat and add the mince meat (and onion if using), begin to fry it well until it is browned then add the spices and season the meat with some salt to taste.

Add the rice, fry it around briefly (not too much so it doesn't break, especially if it starts sticking to the bottom)
Now add your stock or boiling water.

For every 1 cup of rice I add 1 3/4 cups liquid and 1 tsp salt.

Now cover and reduce heat.  It will take about 15-30 minutes to cook depends on your stove and such but after 20 minutes take a peek and if the water dried up and the rice grains look done (taste!) then you're good to go.

Remove from heat and use a large spoon to bring the rice from the bottom to the top or gently fluffing it.  You could pour it out into a casserole at this point to cool without sticking together.

Serve and enjoy! :)

Now if you have leftovers a couple of days later and some chicken in your fridge you can revive this dish from the fridge and create something fabulous!

I began here by removing the breast from the whole chicken (I buy whole chicken, it is cheaper! and I can make stock out of the carcass too, also the legs are delicious just grilled up for later)

Slicing through the breast horizontally I was able to create a flat piece of chicken with relatively the same thickness throughout, I left the skin on too because it will crisp up.

With two chicken breasts now well flattened I seasoned them with salt, black pepper and a drizzle of lemon juice (this will ensure a tender chicken,  to be honest I can't eat chicken without a fresh lemon marinade on it, and I'm not a fan of chicken breast at all because I find it dry so this will help to keep it moist)

Wrapped it up and set in the fridge until ready to use.

Meanwhile I roasted/toasted up some almonds (you can use whole, halved, or sliced) toasted in a tiny bit of oil until brown (keep a close eye on it as they burn quickly)  and then setting them on paper towel for the excess oil to drain away.   Now the same process (but a little quicker) for the raisins, they tend to blow up in the oil and from the heat, don't let them burn because they are sugary and burn quickly.

Set aside and prep the thread, I used butchers twine, divided the thread in 3 and threaded a fairly large needle (had a pack of them from doing some ribbon embroidery)

Mix the amount of rice (about 3/4 - 1 cup) in a bowl with some of the nuts and raisins.

Remove the chicken breast from the fridge, set one flat (skin side down) on a cutting board and begin to stack up the rice mixture into a mountain on top of the chicken, now add the second piece on top (skin side up) and begin stitching using large secure stitches both pieces together around the side until it's like a large shut clam.

Prepare a small oven safe baking dish or casserole with a bit of oil and 1 tsp of butter, add your stuffed chicken "ball" and then top with another 1 tsp of butter and bake at 450 F for 10 minutes and reducing the temperature to 425 until the chicken is cooked, you need to flip it from time to time, and I broiled mine at the end to crisp up the skin at the top.

It must be cooked properly to be safe to eat, I wouldn't want anyone to get food poisoning so use a thermometer and insert it inside and follow proper chicken cooking guidelines.

Once it's out of the oven, allow it to cool, then slice and serve! Don't forget to gently snip a piece of the thread with a sharp scissors and pull it out of both pieces so you or your guests don't choke on the twine.  Your guests will be impressed with this dish, I assure you.  Each "ball" made out of 2 breasts can serve 2 people so you could made another one if you want to serve 4 or depending on how many people your cooking for.

I really hope you enjoy this recipe.  I served mine with a spinach salad (with nectarines in it)  I would have used apricots if they were in season because they complement chicken very well but you could chop up some dried apricots and use it in the rice stuffing if you like, I may try that next time!

Oh and one more thing...  I just wanted to mention that back home in the middle east women (including my Kurdish grandma) are incredibly skilled, they can debone the entire chicken and then stuff it with a rice mixture and stitch it back up beautifully before roasting it, it is an art but of course I'm not so talented (although I can debone a quail, think I just got some practice after prepping them for my cats) hopefully some day I can try to learn how to do it, at least once in my life! ;-)  


Anonymous said...

Perfect timing I made a rice dish similar (I used lamb mince) to yours the other day. I still have a loads left over that no one wants to eat. I hate throwing food away, I'm going to make this tonight.

Julie said...

This looks delicious! Your photography is gorgeous. I make this rice a lot for my family, too, but I never thought to use it as a stuffing. Thanks for the idea! :)

Unknown said...

At my local grocery store all I could get was ground cardamom, how much ground cardamom should I substitute for 2 whole cardamom pods?

Unknown said...

At my local grocery store all I could get was ground cardamom, how much ground cardamom should I substitute for 2 whole cardamom pods?

Amatullah said...

Dominique, the cardamom is not essential at all so either omit it or use about 1/8th of a tsp. If you like more of one spice by all means put more in, I just threw a dash of each in.

I hope it turns out :)