Persian Fried Chicken

 

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This is an absolutely wonderful dish that is very easy to prepare and requires some advance planning. A yogurt marinade helps tenderize the boneless, skinless chicken thighs, infusing them with saffron and paprika, and a quick frying lends the meat a crispy, minty coating. The chicken must marinate for several hours, or overnight for the best results,  before it can be cooked and the marinade contains that costliest of spices, saffron but the wait and splurge are worth it.

Enjoy!

Serves 8

Ingredients:

½ teaspoon saffron or turmeric*
2 cups plain whole-milk yogurt
1 Tablespoon chopped garlic
2 ½ pounds boneless, skinless chicken thighs
2 cups all purpose flour
2 teaspoons paprika
1 teaspoon garlic powder
1 Tablespoon dried mint
1 Tablespoon salt, more for sprinkling
½ teaspoon ground black pepper
Vegetable oil, for frying
1 cup walnut clusters, for garnish
1 lemon, cut into wedges

Directions:

In a small bowl, combine saffron with 1 tablespoon water and let soak 10 minutes. Place in food processor with yogurt and garlic and purée until smooth and  pale yellow. Place chicken in ziploc plastic bag; pour yogurt mixture on top, seal the plastic bag and turn to coat; place the ziploc bag in a bowl and and refrigerate at least 3 hours or overnight, for the best results.

In a medium bowl, combine flour, paprika, garlic powder, mint, salt and pepper. Dredge the chicken pieces in flour mixture, dip the chicken in the yogurt batter once again and dredge in the flour a second time. Place the chicken on a wire rack and allow the breaded chicken to sit for  about 1o to 15 minutes before frying.

Heat a generous half-inch oil in a  deep cast iron skillet over medium heat. Drop in a bit of bread to test temperature; oil should bubble vigorously. Working in batches to avoid crowding, fry the chicken until it is golden brown on both sides, about 7 minutes per side. Remove and drain on paper towels.

Sprinkle with salt and top with walnuts and lemon wedges. Serve with basmati or jasmine rice, family style.

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*Cook’s Notes: 

Saffron, long among the world’s most costly spices by weight, is native to Greece or Southwest Asia and was first cultivated in Greece.saffron_thread.jpg
Saffron is a spice derived from the flower of Crocus sativus, commonly known as the “saffron crocus”. Saffron crocus grows to 20–30 cm (8–12 in) and bears up to four flowers, each with three vivid crimson stigmas, which are the distal end of a carpel. The styles and stigmas, called threads, are collected and dried to be used mainly as a seasoning and coloring agent in food.
In terms of flavor, no substitute for saffron exists. It is completely unique.

Turmeric (Curcuma longa) is a rhizomatous herbaceous perennial plant of the ginger fturmeric.jpgamily, Zingiberaceae. It is native to southwest India.

When not used fresh, the rhizomes are boiled for about 30–45 minutes then dried in hot ovens, after which they are ground into a deep-orange-yellow powder commonly used as a spice in Bangladeshi cuisine, Indian cuisine, Pakistani cuisine and curries, for dyeing, and to impart color to mustard condiments. One active ingredient is curcumin, which has a distinctly earthy, slightly bitter, slightly hot peppery flavor and a mustardy smell.

Turmeric has a very strong, distinctive flavor, and could easily overpower or clash with other flavors in a recipe not written for it. You might be very unhappy with the results in a dish that’s supposed to have the subtlety of saffron. However, it would certainly work in certain dishes, albeit with an entirely different flavor profile.

If the primary interest is coloring, there is the suggestion of annatto, as it imparts a beautiful color with essentially no flavor.

Personally, rather than try to a substitute for the saffron, I would continue to use it in those recipes that call for it, especially if it’s key in the flavor profile. For example, saffron pilaf just won’t work without it.  If your  budget is  tight, just make those dishes less frequently and savor them all the more, when you use saffron.

TODAY.com Parenting Team FC Contributor

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