When I saw this recipe at Simply Recipes, I skimmed through it, and saw that it was an easy chicken salad recipe. It is a recipe that won’t heat up your house, so I just printed it off and moved on to the next recipe search.
I planned on making it a day ahead, so the salad can be merry and the seasoning seeps through the chickens… But, before I go on and show you the steps in making this chicken salad, let me tell you a story and fast forward to the night we ate this chicken salad.
So from the above, you know that I made the chicken salad the night before. I made it, thought nothing about it, until the night we were going to eat it. That evening, my mind wondered to the chicken salad. Well, where is this dish coming from? What is the origin? What do I tell my hubby about this strange pronounciation of chicken salad?
So I googled the word “Circassian”. The first entry listed in Google was the Wikipedia entry. So I clicked on it, and it tells me that Circassian is a nation and an ethnic group somewhere near the Northern Causasian nations. I had no clue where that was. I read on, and the Wikipedia’s entry threw in a bunch more ethnic/country names. History is not my forte, so I still had no clue about Circassian. Then, at the bottom of the first paragraph, the word Turkey came to light, and now I know that the current, majority Circassians are living in Turkey. I know where Turkey is! 🙂
So! Then I started to google Circassian Chicken Salad. It led me to a bunch of sites with the recipes on how to make the salad. But there was not much background information that I could find on this, until I saw this blog. Supposedly, this dish came with the Circassian women, who were during the Ottoman’s reign, captured by the Sultans as concubines. So, out of nowhere, I was serving a Middle East dish in my home… 🙂
But then, this site claims that Circassian Chicken Salad is a Ukranian dish. So.. who knows… When I looked at the map of Ukraine, it is fairly close to the modern Turkey. So it is possible that the dish was a regional dish, where different ethnic groups claim that it was theirs.
So that was the story, and now you know a dish from either Turkey or Ukraine! So now let me show you how I made it. First I thought it was going to be complicated, but as I went on making it, it turned out to be very easy!
I gathered up the ingredients, chicken breast, walnut, olive oil, parsley, paprika, salt, pepper, garlic, cayenne, lemon, and chicken stock. I did not have regular bread on hand, so I used leftover hamburger bun. Hamburger bun is bread right? 🙂
First I poured the chicken stock into a pot. The recipe asked for a quart of chicken stock, which I thought it was a lot of stock for two pieces of chicken breast. But, what do I know? I shrugged and turned on the heat, and dug out another pot.
I poured some olive oil in the other pot, heated it up…
Then poured the paprika on it.
Next time, I will just warm up the olive oil, remove the pot from the heat, and dump the paprika in it. Paprika tends to burn on high heat, as you can see on the bottom wall of this pot. When I stirred the paprika around, some got stuck on the wall of the pot, and started burning. So I turned off the heat and moved the pot off of that burner. The paprika simmered in oil was pretty fragrant. Now, be careful with your spoon or whatever utensil you’re using to stir the paprika around. Paprika will stain your wooden spoon, or your countertop. So make sure you don’t splash it everywhere and end up with red stains all over your kitchen!
Then my stock started to simmer, so I put the chicken breast in the stock pot. After making sure that the chicken was covered with the stock (if you need, you can add some water to the pot), I let it cook for 10 minutes and let it sit there until I was ready to shred the chicken.
Then I chopped the walnut, green onions, parsley. I set aside ½ cup of walnut, green onions and a tablespoon of the chopped parsley.
Then I got my hamburger bun, and proceeded to tear it apart and put it in a bowl.
I poured some of the chicken stock on the buns. Note that in my haste, I poured two cups of chicken stock, so I ended up adding more bread because it turned out to be too watery.
Then I dumped the soaked bread into a blender…
Dumped the chopped walnut…
Dumped the garlic and the rest of the parsley…
Put a dash of cayenne pepper…
A teaspoon of salt..
Then turned on the blender.
So at the end I got the liquidy walnut sauce. Probably had I not poured in too much chicken stock, it would be a lot thicker.
Next I poured the paprika oil…
Blended it again…
Then I was ready to shred the chicken. And what did I do with all those chicken stock? I measured them into half a cup measurement, put them in tupperwares, and froze them. The next time I need some chicken stock, then I would have it already measured!
I dumped the rest of the walnut, green onions and parsley into the bowl of chicken…
Added some of the walnut/paprika sauce…
Mixed them all up, and added some lemon juice to the mixture. Added pepper to taste.
Then I served them on Boule Bread slices, along with some green salad and tomatoes.
I liked the taste of the chicken salad. It was creamy, nutty, and it actually tasted pretty good. Hubby did not like it though; he did not like the texture. It wasn’t surprising, since he could not get into the Indonesian salad with peanut sauce (pecel) either. He could it eat, but it is not something that he would go out of his way to find it.
I on the other hand, like it and plan on making it more for my lunch at work! I probably need to see if I can freeze the paste, and when I want Circassian chicken salad for lunch, I would have the sauce ready already.
Well, broaden your horizons, try this Circassian Chicken Salad. Or, you can try to find a Turkish restaurant in your area and explore the different food they have. Bon appetite!
Print recipe here.
Circassian Chicken Salad
Recipe from Simply Recipes
2 full chicken breasts (both halves)
4 tablespoons olive or walnut oil
4 teaspoons paprika
1 ½ cups chopped walnuts
3 chopped garlic cloves
2 tablespoons chopped green onions
1 teaspoon cayenne
2 tablespoons chopped parsley
2 slices of bread, crusts removed
1 quart chicken stock
The juice of a lemon
1 Bring the chicken stock to a simmer and add the chicken breasts. Add some water if there is not enough liquid to cover the meat. Simmer gently for 10 minutes, then turn off the heat.
2 Meanwhile, heat the olive or walnut oil in a small pot over low heat and add the paprika. Stir well to combine. Heat until you can smell the aroma of the paprika, then turn off the heat.
3 Tear the bread into chunks and put into a bowl. Ladle out about a cup or two of the chicken broth and pour it over the bread.
4 Set aside ½ cup of walnuts and put in a bowl with the green onions and 1 tablespoon of the parsley.
5 Put the rest of the walnuts into a food processor with the garlic, the cayenne, about a teaspoon of salt, the rest of the parsley and the soaked bread. Buzz to make a thick, relatively chunky paste. If it needs a bit more chicken broth to loosen up, add some a tablespoon at a time.
6 Stir the paprika-oil, then pour it into the food processor and buzz to combine. Taste the mixture to see if it needs salt.
7 Pull the skin off the chicken breasts and tear the meat into shreds. Put it in the bowl with the unchopped walnuts, green onions and such.
8 Add the walnut-paprika paste from the food processor to the bowl and stir gently to combine everything thoroughly. Add black pepper and lemon juice to taste and stir one more time to combine.