Tuesday, January 01, 2008

Veiled Chicken/Chicken Chador

Also known as Chicken in a Burka or Chicken Chador, this recipe was inspired by the locale of Parsha Shemot, in Midian, which turns out to be Saudi Arabia. All week we looked at Saudi recipes and spices, hoping to get an early start on the menu, but you never know when inspiration will strike—this time it was Thursday night as I was drifting off to sleep. Aaron woke me with his giggles, and issued the challenge—our chicken could not go uncovered to the dining room, and it must be accompanied by a male element.

I wanted black burkas, and the darkest covering I could think of was purple cabbage. I’ve made stuffed cabbage before, so I used a tomato sauce with Saudi spices. Baby carrots represented the male chaperones. With the purple, red and orange, the dish took on a fiery look, reminding us all of another element of the story this week, the burning bush.

Veiled Chicken Recipe

10 lbs chicken pieces
1 head purple cabbage
1 large onion
7 cloves garlic
1 lb baby carrots
1 apple
1 pear
2 bottles Ragu sauce

Cut the core out of the cabbage. Put the cabbage in a pot and cover it with water. Remove cabbage, bring water to a boil, replace cabbage and simmer for 10-15 minutes, peeling off leaves as they become tender. Set aside cabbage leaves to cool.

Trim excess fat from chicken and lay the pieces out. Sprinkle generously with cumin, ginger, cinnamon, salt, pepper and sugar. Turn and repeat on other side. Rub seasonings into the meat and under the skin.

Cut onion, apple and pear into bite-size pieces, and mince garlic.

In a large roasting pan, pour one bottle of Ragu sauce. Add the onion, apple, pear and garlic. Wrap chicken pieces in cabbage leaves and lay them in the roasting pan packed tightly together. If there is cabbage left over, add it to the pot. Pour the second bottle of Ragu over the top. Top with baby carrots, sprinkled with the spice mix. Cover tightly and bake at 425 for 2 hours, basting once or twice. This can be made a day ahead—it gets better with age!


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