TOYUQ-DOSHAMA PLOV (Pilaf with chicken & chestnuts)
Pilaf is the signature dish of Azerbaijani cuisine. It served on special occasions and known in Azerbaijan as Ash or Plov. The rice in Azerbaijani Pilaf should never be sticky. The basic cooking method is to parboil and then steam the rice. Pilaf is usually served as its own dish on a large plate, accompanied by different garnishes in separate bowls. The most interesting part of pilaf is Qazmaq – a crust made at the bottom of the saucepot when the rice is steamed. It served in pieces with the rice or on a separate plate. Azerbaijani cuisine has dozens of different types of pilaf, one of which is Doshama Plov .
Doshama pilaf is an Azerbaijani dish in which the meat or chicken are cooked in one pan together with the rice.
Ingredients for 4 servings:
2 cups long-grain (Basmati) rice (cup size 250 ml)
1 quart (1 liter) water + 1 tbsp salt for soaking rice
3 quarts (3 liter) water + 3 tbsp salt for cooking rice
8 oz (225 g) clarified unsalted butter
½ tsp saffron threads
1 small chicken
200g cooked chestnuts
Salt & Peppers for seasoning chicken
Preparing the saffron infusion.
Place saffron threads into a shot glass. Then, pour about two tablespoons of boiling water and let it sit. The water will turn an opulent yellow color immediately, deepening over the next few minutes until it becomes a clear, bright orange.
Preparing the chestnuts.
You can use cooked and peeled chestnuts, which vacuum-packed and ready to add to any dish. They are usually available at any oriental markets.
If cooking with fresh chestnuts, make sure they are plump, firm, glossy, and heavy for their size. To cook with the chestnuts, you must first peel the shell and remove the inner skin. This is usually done by boiling or roasting them. If you are pairing your chestnuts with other flavors, you need to boil them. To boil chestnuts, use a sharp paring knife to cut an X on the flat side of each nut. Bring them to a boil in a pot of cold water and let it simmer for 20-30 minutes until the chestnuts are completely cooked. Remove the pot from the heat and scoop out the chestnuts, a few at a time, and peel off the shell and skin. As they cool down, they become more difficult to peel, so leave them in the hot water until you are ready to peel them.
Lightly fry cooked and peeled chestnuts in 1 tbsp butter.
Preparing the rice.
Rinse the rice thoroughly in cold water several times until the water stays clear, to remove excess starch. Then, soak the rice overnight in salty water at room temperature (or at least 1 hour in very hot salty water) for a truly great, fluffy, and evenly cooked rice. Before cooking the rice, pour out the water straining the rice with a colander.
Fill a pot (or saucepan) with water, add salt, and bring it to a boil. Place the rice into the boiling water. Stir, lower the heat to medium, and let it cook for 5-10 minutes (depending on the quality of your rice). Cooked rice should be soft on the outside and hard inside (not raw.)
Strain the rice using a colander, rinse with a hot water to wash out an extra salt, and set it aside for later.
Preparing the chicken.
With a sharp knife, slice down the middle of the breastbone, to separate the rib cage. Be careful not to cut all the way through the chicken – it should remain in one piece. Turn the chicken over and flatten by breaking small bones and turning out the wings and drumsticks. Each breast half should be covered by drumstick and a wing. Flatten the chicken with the meat pounder. Rub with the salt and pepper.
Preparing the pilaf.
Pour two tablespoons of melted butter into the saucepan, and place the chicken on the bottom with a skin side down.
Place a layer of the rice (approximately a quarter of it) on the chicken and pour 2-3 tablespoons of melted butter on top. Then, follow up with another layer of rice and more butter. Repeat the procedure with all your rice. On the last layer, pour the saffron infusion on top along with more butter. Make some air holes in the surface with the handle of a wooden spoon to allow steam to escape.
Wrap the lid of the pot in a clean tea towel and cover the rice. Cook over a very low heat for about 60 minutes.
The chicken will be cooked and crispy. Cooked rice will soak to itself all butter, and will be fluffy and soft to taste with an attractive yellow and white color.
Serve Toyuq-Doshama plov on a large plate and garnish with the chicken and chestnuts.
Bon Appétit! Enjoy!
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