“Whenever I have made this scrumptious dish people have literally bowed at my feet. I assume no responsibility for what happens after you serve b’steeya.” So says Nancy Mehegian, the fabulous cook/author/healer who made this dish for our Siren’s Feast dinner (check out Carrot and Beet Salad, too). There was no actual bowing at my house that night, but the discussion of Nancy’s book began with several guests begging for details on how to make this incredible recipe. OMG, so good, so unusual: Armenian-spiced chicken with ground almonds and pine nuts wrapped in filo…slightly sweet, extremely exotic and so very impressive.
Serves 8 to 10
1 whole chicken
2 T butter
1/4 cup olive oil
2 medium onions, chopped
2 cloves garlic, minced
Small bunch mint leaves, finely chopped
Small bunch parsley, finely chopped
1 t. turmeric
1 t. cumin or ras el hanout
1 t. fresh grated ginger root
1 T tamari soy sauce
1 t. salt
1/2 t freshly ground black pepper
1 1/2 cups chicken broth
1/2 cup pine nuts
1/2 cup blanched, slivered almonds
1/4 cup raw sugar
1 1/2 t. cinnamon
1 T butter
6 eggs, beaten
Juice of 2 lemons
1 lb. filo dough
3/4 cup butter
Preheat oven to 375 degrees.
Begin by boiling whole chicken (with excess fat removed) in about 2 quarts spring water for approximately 45 minutes. Remove the chicken, reserving broth. Carefully debone and shred the chicken, removing all skin and gristle. Set aside.
In a large heavy skillet heat butter and olive oil. Next stir in onions and garlic and sauté until tender. Next add mint, parsely, ginger, soy sauce, and all spices, blending well. Stir in the chicken broth and continue cooking over a low flame to reduce liquid. Stir in the shredded chicken and set aside.
In another dry skillet (preferably cast iron), brown the pine nuts and almonds over a medium flame, stirring constantly so they do not burn. When the nuts are golden brown allow them to cool, then grind them in a blender, food processor or nut grinder until finely ground. Stir in the sugar and cinnamon and set aside.
Again, using a skillet or frying pan, melt 1 tablespoon butter, stir in a mixture of the 6 beaten eggs and lemon juice. Scramble this mixture, stirring constantly, for a few minutes. When done, eggs will look soft and curdled. Set aside.
In a small saucepan melt 3/4 cup butter. Remove the filo dough from its box. Using a round baking dish or a 10 to 12 inch seasoned cast iron skillet, begin laying the dough, brushing it with butter every two layers, and crossing the dough every two layers. The edges of the filo will hang over the sides of the skillet. Brush overhanging edges with butter so they do not dry out. (Nancy highly recommends using the cast iron skillet for perfect, even baking.)
When all the dough has been layered in this manner place the chicken mixture on the bottom. Layer the scramble egg mixture next and finally sprinkle the nut and sugar mixture over the top of the eggs.
Next, carefully fold the overhanging edges of the dough in towards the middle , then brush the whole top of the pie with melted butter.
Place skillet or baking dish in oven and bake for 30 minutes, or until pastry is evenly golden brown. When done, remove from the oven and carefully invert on a platter. Dust the top with powdered sugar, slice and serve hot from the oven.
Other Recipes from Nancy