Day two of the culinary journey took us to Turkey. It is only day two of the journey and I have the desire to expand my cultural and geographic knowledge to learn more about the history of the country and the history of the food. Turkey has a unique location; it is in Europe and on the edge of the Middle East. Turkey shares a northeastern boarder with Greece and Bulgaria the Black Sea is to the north, Georgia and Armenia are to the northwest, Iran to the west, and Syria and the Mediterranean Sea are to the south. The PBS show NOVA Building Wonders has a feature about Haiga Sophia that explore the architectural wonder of the building.
Turkey has participated in the Summer Olympics since 1908 only missing three of the games. They have won a total of 87 medals, the most of them in wrestling. They have 102 athletes participating in ten different events. (Thank you Google and Wikipedia for making this easy.)
The dish I selected was one of twelve in The New York Times International Cookbook by Craig Claiborne. The dishes that lost out include Tripe Soup (tripe come from the lining of the cows stomach), Serbian Fish, Swordfish Shish Kebab, Media Dolma, Stuffed Mussels, and Serbian Chicken Casserole.
The Chicken with Walnut Sauce had potential but it was not the best of the best. Being unfamiliar with walnut sauce I was not sure how it should look or taste. Also, the walnuts I bought were canned which was mistake number one. I later used these walnuts to make an apple cake and they were baked which brought out the flavor. The walnut sauce was so-so. The other mistake was overcooked, dried out chicken.
I did some online searching to learn more about the dish known as Circassian Chicken. It is a classic Circassian dish, adopted by the Ottoman. The Sultans took a particular liking to the Circassian women. They liked the women so much they took some captive to serve as concubines and wives. (Thank you Ozlem Warren for the story on how the dish traveled to Turkey from the Circassian region.)
Here are links to two other recipes:
Chicken with Walnut Sauce
For the Chicken
- 1 chicken 4 to 5 pounds
- 1 onion – cut into quarters
- 1 carrot
- 1 rib of celery with leaves
- 3 sprigs of parsley
- 1/2 a bay leaf
- 12 peppercorns
- 3 quarts of water
- Place the chicken in a large dutch oven or kettle.
- Add the onion, carrot, celery, parsley, bay leave, salt to taste, peppercorns, and water. For added color and flavor keep the skin and peel on the onion and carrot.
- Bring the water to a boil. Once boiling, turn the heat to low and simmer for one to one and one half hours, or until the chicken is tender.
- Cool the chicken in its stock.
- Remove the chicken from the kettle.
- Reserve one cup of stock to use in making the walnut sauce.
- Slice the chicken and arrange on a platter. Place in the refrigerator.
- Once the walnut sauce is made, spread the sauce over the chicken and sprinkle with paprika.
- Serve cold.
For the Walnut Sauce
- 3 slices of white bread
- 1 cup of chicken stock
- 2 cups of shelled walnuts – toasted.
- Trim the crust and cube the bread.
- Add the bread and the cup of reserved chicken stock to a blender.
- Cover and blend on high speed.
- Gradually add the two cups of walnuts and blend to make a paste.
- Add salt to taste.
After reading more about Turkish cuisine, I learned that pilaf is a popular dish. The Turkish Cookbook is a great online source for Turkish cooking. Binnur was born and raised in Turkey and moved to Canada in 1995. In 2005 her daughter suggested she start a blog dedicated to Turkish cooking.
One last note, Turkish writer, Orhan Pamuk won the 2006 Nobel Prize for Literature. He writes of Istanbul and the mingling of cultures in the city. His book Museum of Innocence is about lost love and the man who obsessively collects objects from her to chronicle their time together.