Story and photos by Manos Angelakis
In Athens, my mother used to make a dish called Mavro Pilafi (Black Pilaf) in Greek or Iç Pilav in Turkish whenever she served roast chicken to the family. A rice dish found in most Middle Eastern and Arabic cuisines uses pine-nuts and dried sultana raisins -- in addition to the chicken livers, hearts and giblets -- as traditional ingredients in both the Greek and Turkish versions; but in Persian recipes one finds pine nuts and dried cherries, instead of sultanas or pistachio meat instead of pine nuts, and no chicken parts. The Moroccan version uses a mixture of diced dried apricots and figs and in a Syrian recipe, pistachios and raisins are standard. In Louisiana, a very similar recipe is called “Dirty Rice”. I believe that one can use any mixture of nuts and dried fruit for a tasty companion dish to roasted or braised or fried chicken.
Ingredients for 6 portions:
2 cups long-grain basmati rice
2 tsp salt
3 cups boiling water
6 chicken livers
20 hearts and 12 gizzards, cubed
2 tbs plus 2oz. unsalted butter, divided
1 medium white onion, chopped
2 tbs. pine nuts or pistachio meat
3 ½ cups chicken stock
1/4 cup currants or other dried fruit
1/4 tsp ground cinnamon
1/4 tsp ground allspice
3 tsp finely chopped flat-leaf parsley
In a bowl combine the rice with the 2 tsp salt and pour on boiling water. Stir well and let stand until the water is cold. Drain and set aside.
In a small sauté pan over medium heat melt 2 tbs. butter. Add the chicken hearts and gizzards and sauté until brown and firm on the outside, 4 to 5 minutes; add the livers and continue cooking for 2 or 3 more minutes, until livers are fully cooked but not dried out. Let cool, then chop coarsely or cube. Set aside.
In a cast iron sauté pan, over medium heat, melt 2 oz butter. Add the onion and pine nuts and sauté until very pale golden brown. Add the rice and cook, stirring, until opaque, about 5 minutes. Add the cinnamon and allspice, the stock, currants or other dried fruit and chicken parts. Cover and cook over medium-low heat until all liquid is absorbed, about 14 to 16 minutes.
Uncover the pan, drape a folded kitchen towel over it and replace the lid. Cook over very low heat for another 5 minutes. Turn off heat and let stand for 15 minutes. Sprinkle with the parsley and serve.
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