Monday, March 19, 2018

Adas Polo o Morgh



I had tried a few new chicken recipes in the past few months, but they hadn’t impressed me enough to blog about them. Honey lemon chicken with sautéed green beans was very good, easy sticky lemon-turmeric chicken was a bit underwhelming. But then I read Salt, Fat, Acid, Heat by Samin Nosrat. It is an excellent book that is more than just recipes. The first half explains in detail how each of the title elements affects food, and the second half has recipes to put it into practice. It was a great addition to my cookbook collection!

This recipe, Adas Polo o Morgh (or chicken with lentil rice) is the first that I tried from this book, and it was excellent. I used 4 bone-in, skin-on chicken breasts and, as it turns out, had plenty of leftovers that I put in the freezer after two meals – I’m really looking forward to digging those out, actually!

For the Persian herb and cucumber yogurt
¼ cup black or golden raisins
1 ½ cups plain lactose-free yogurt
1 Persian cucumber, peeled and finely diced
¼ cup any combination finely chopped fresh herbs (mint, parsley, and cilantro are good choices)
1 garlic clove, finely grated
¼ cup toasted walnuts, coarsely chopped
2 Tbsp. extra-virgin olive oil
1 generous pinch of salt

For the chicken
4-lb. chicken, or 8 bone-in, skin-on thighs
salt
1 tsp. + 1 Tbsp. ground cumin
extra-virgin olive oil
3 Tbsp. lactose-free butter
2 medium yellow onions, thinly sliced
2 bay leaves
1 small pinch saffron threads
2 ½ cups basmati rice
1 cup black or golden raisins
6 Medjool dates, pitted and quartered
4 ½ chicken stock or water
1 ½ cups cooked, drained brown or green lentils (from about ¾ cup raw)

For the Persian herb and cucumber yogurt
In a small bowl, submerge the raisins in boiling water. Let them sit for 15 minutes to rehydrate and plump up. Drain and place in a medium bowl. Add the yogurt, cucumber, herbs, garlic, walnuts, olive oil, and salt. Stir to combine, taste, and adjust salt as needed. Chill until serving.

For the chicken
If using a whole bird, quarter the chicken. Season generously with salt and 1 teaspoon cumin on all sides (this should ideally be done the night before, but give the salt at least 1 hour to diffuse throughout the meat before cooking).

Wrap the lid of a large Dutch oven with a tea towel secured to the handle with a rubber band. This will absorb steam and prevent the skin from becoming soggy.

Set the Dutch oven over medium-high heat and add olive oil to coat the bottom of the pan. Brown the chicken in two batches, so as not to crowd the pan. Begin with the skin side down, then turn and rotate the chicken around the pan to get even browning on both sides, about 4 minutes per side. Remove from pan and set aside. Carefully discard fat.

Return the pan to medium heat and melt the butter. Add the onions, cumin, bay leaves, saffron, and a pinch of salt and cook, stirring, until brown and tender, about 25 minutes.

Increase the heat to medium-high; add the rice to the pan and toast, stirring, until it turns a light golden color. Add the raisins and dates and let them fry for a minute until they start to plump.

Pour in the stock and lentils, increase the heat to high, and bring to a boil. Season generously with salt and taste. In order to get the rice properly seasoned, make the liquid salty enough to make you slightly uncomfortable – it should be saltier than the saltiest soup you’ve ever tasted. Reduce the heat to low and nestle in the chicken, skin side up. Cover the pan and cook for 40 minutes.

After 40 minutes, turn off the heat and let the pan sit, covered, for 10 minutes to continue steaming. Remove lid and fluff rice with a fork. Serve immediately with the yogurt sauce.

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