Mediterranean Chicken and Rice Pilaf with Cinnamon
Fall Flavors are easy to capture with many of the traditional Lebanese recipes because so many of the dishes include a cinnamon stick to round the flavors. In my house growing up, this particular dish was a family favorite; particularly my brother loved this dish. In fact, the first time I prepared this dish was for my brother when I went to visit him in his new home. I had my mother write down the instructions, (which I have kept as a keepsake!), because I wanted to prepare the dish exactly the way he remembered.
Funny enough, after my mother had passed and when my sisters and I gathered to cook together this very dish for our brother at a family gathering, we ALL had a different version of the same recipe our mother had taught us! (Good thing I kept the instructions she shared with me as my proof!) But the TRUTH was…my mother was a free spirit by nature and could create the same recipe and alter it slightly each time – sometimes it was merely depending on what she had in the house. Nonetheless, her dishes were always delicious. Two notable options which can be added to this dish are either garbanzo beans (and-or) ground beef (or lamb). Garbanzo beans are a nice addition, and many add ground beef, but I like to keep it simple with the chicken, because I usually prepare another meat dish along side this when I have guests.
In summation: This is a versatile dish and it is always a hit as an introduction to Lebanese cuisine. Many are surprised by the simple ingredients and the comforting flavors. Just last weekend I prepared this for my American cousin who requested this dish specifically. What a beautiful evening we shared around the table, feeling Fall in the air, walking in nature, and filling our bodies with good nutrition. So may you enjoy this recipe toward good health…and remember as I always say, “Sah’tain!”
Recipe and Instructions:
Step ONE: Boil one Whole Chicken with two cinnamon sticks, one small red onion quartered, 1/2 of a lemon, 2 cloves of garlic, whole, 2 tsp of salt. Once the chicken is thoroughly cooked and cooled, de-bone the chicken separating the white and dark meat (merely as a preference) into a bowl with the onion and garlic and cinnamon sticks, (discard the lemon). Cover the chicken, onion, and garlic with some of the broth to keep the chicken moist. (Note: Reheat if needed just before serving – be sure to drain the broth before serving)
Step TWO: Prepare two cups of rice using the remaining chicken broth. Add 2 tablespoon of butter, 1 1/2 teaspoons of salt, 1 cinnamon stick.
Step THREE: Meanwhile, toast in 1 tablespoon of butter a generous handful of each: slivered almonds and pine nuts. Toast on med-low, set aside.
Step FOUR: Once rice is done, assemble together on a platter the rice, topped with the chicken, onion, and garlic. Finally top the dish with the toasted nuts. Decorate platter with the cinnamon sticks before serving. Add additional salt to taste.
NOTE: This dish is traditionally served with yogurt. You may enjoy it with plain yogurt or try this delicious Yogurt Recipe: In a bowl, pound one fresh garlic clove with a little salt. Add 2 cups of yogurt. Add 2 tsp. of dried mint. Add 1/4 cup of a cucumber peeled and diced. Combine together. Add salt to taste.
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