My Lebanese mother-in-law (who did not know what a measuring cup/spoon was) would tell me not to add too many pine nuts to this recipe because they were like “deeheb” or gold in value. My response was to tell her, “But that is what makes it “taebyne” or delicious!
The nice part about this recipe is that it makes a terrific holiday meal or just special occasion that can be done in stages. As a mother of four children (twins in between) this was a deal breaker with not having much time to spare. In fact, during the time that I prepared this stuffing I changed the linens on the bed, vacuumed the living room, washed my face and got dressed!
Busy mothers who work outside of the home can prepare the stuffing the night before and put it in a closed container in the refrigerator. Then the next day it can be stuffed in the bird in just a few minutes to cook on its own. This gives us women more time to do the things we do best! If you like a more crispy layer try to baste the bird once or twice before the last basting when you take the cover off for 15 minutes to reach that perfect golden crisp.
In conclusion, this rice stuffing is really a food template with variations for other Arabic dishes like stuffed artichokes and grape leaves. (Oh, did I say grape leaves? That will have to be another recipe to share “abookarah” tomorrow or another day with how to pick your own!) “Sahhtyne” good appetite.
-One large uncooked, washed in cold water chicken
-2 cups uncooked, brown rice (rinse about 2 or 3 times until clear)
-2 medium onions
-3 tablespoons fresh, chopped parsley
-1 ¼ teaspoon cinnamon
-¾ teaspoon allspice
-Salt ½ teaspoon (to taste)
-Black ground pepper ¾ teaspoons, Optional: paprika
-¼ cup butter or (enough olive oil to sauté onion mixture)
-¾ cup chopped walnuts (can substitute almonds instead)
-3 tablespoons pine nuts
Fill a medium sized pan with 4 ½ cups of cold water and boil adding the rice to cook only half-way (about 20 minutes.) Leave in pan and set aside.
a) Chop up 2 medium onions.
b) Crush lightly ¾ cup of walnuts.
c) Measure 3 tablespoons pine nuts (or you can use slivered or chopped almonds.)
d) In ¼ cup of butter (or olive oil) sauté all the above until golden yellow.
e) Set aside.
a) Put about a ½ pound of uncooked ground turkey (or chopped into pieces) beef, or lamb in a medium sized mixing bowl.
b) Add the half-cooked brown rice then stir into the above mixture with the meat.
c) Season the above mixtures with the following spices:
½ teaspoon of salt or to taste
¾ teaspoon ground black pepper
1 ¼ teaspoons of cinnamon
¾ teaspoon allspice
3 tablespoons of parsley (fresh is nicer and add more!)
Now you are ready to stuff the chicken (or 2 Cornish Hens if you are feeling fancy.)
Firmly (without breaking) pull the legs open to expose the already cleansed cavity. Start pushing the mixed filling into the chicken inside the cavity and also in the pulled back skin of the neck area. Discard the neck and liver pack, or you can wash them and use as a base for a gravy (that would be another cooking session!)
Pat the upper skin of the chicken with about a teaspoon of butter or dab of rubbed in olive oil. This will make a crispy coating. Sprinkle with salt and paprika. Dinner will be ready in about 2 ½ hours to 3 hours cooking time for a 6 pound chicken in a pre-heated, 350 degree oven. Use a roasting pan with cover and oil the bottom and sides to prevent sticking. It is best to baste once or twice before you take the cover off of the pan about 15 minutes before finishing cooking to promote browning of crispy skin. This should serve about 4 adults or 2 adults and 4 small children who have to be told they are not leaving the table until at least half of their plates are emptied!
Hint: Extra clean-up precautions are needed when cooking poultry. Clean your counters and faucets with a half-full sink of hot-soapy water with about ¼ cup of bleach. Soak your utensils and sponge while cleaning the sink(s), drain the water and rinse with hot
Risa Ruse uses her gift of rhyme from the Divine to inspire children and help adults with PTSD heal through poetry workshops. Her books (with recipes and poems), workshops, and art props are displayed with unique high-end sculpture from local sculptors in her on-line Art Gallery at this link, http://RisaRuseArtist.com
What are some of you favorite stuffing recipes?