Tuesday, April 28, 2009

This Recipe Will Change Your Life

Because it is my birthday (told you I'm a ham) and I'm feeling generous, I am going to share the world's greatest recipe with you. I'm not kidding. This is the best meal ever. In the history of the universe. When I eat this meal, I sigh and smile and thankthelordalmighty for every bite I'm taking as I take it.

You know how on your birthday, your Mom cooks you dinner, and you get to pick the meal that your entire family will have to eat? This is the meal I always pick Well, almost always. Sometimes I'm just in the mood for my Dad's homemade hamburgers and potato salad. But aside from the occasional hamburger, I've requested this meal for as long as I can remember. This is also the meal my Mom makes for me when I come home on school vacation, when I've had a crappy day, or when we're celebrating something. If for some reason, I go crazy and kill a bunch of people, this will be the meal I request as my last. If I find out that this meal will kill me, I'll write up my will today, and kiss my loved ones goodbye.

My mom got this recipe when she was in college in the late 70s, from her Persian friends (is it not politically correct to say "Persian" anymore? They were from Iran). She's been making this meal since then, and if you look for it, you'll see a variation of it in almost every Persian cookbook you look through.

We call it Persian Chicken and Rice. And it's the most wonderful thing in the world.

You'll need (for 6-8 people):

  • 1 whole chicken, or 1 lb boned and skinned chicken pieces (this is good with a mix of light and dark meat)
  • 3 cups uncooked long grain rice
  • 1 pt. frozen butter beans (if you're not from around here, you might call them lima beans)
  • Dill Weed (fresh or dried)
  • salt to taste
  • 2 tbs butter
This is what you'll do:
  1. Put your butter beans on to boil. They'll take about 35-45 minutes to cook all the way through, so I usually start the beans and the chicken to boil at the same time (but in separate pots, of course).
  2. Boil the chicken in water (what else would you boil it in?). Salt to taste. Bone and skin chicken. Shred into small bites. Set aside.
  3. Cook rice in water (not broth) according to package directions. Salt to taste until done. Rinse with cool water and drain. Set aside.
  4. In a dutch oven, layer several times the rice, chicken, butter beans, and a generous sprinkling of dill weed. You almost can't have too much dill weed. Dill weed will save your life. (I made that last one up.)
  5. Dot the top of the rice with butter. Cover and steam on low heat until flavors blend, about 30 minutes. (My mom places a clean dish towel between the pot and the lid on this last step. I'm not sure how this works, but it does).
  6. OPTIONAL: For a delicious, cool treat, shred a fresh cucumber into plain yogurt, and sprinkle generously with dill. This makes a great dip or salad dressing, and it's super delicious when you dip a forkful of Persian Chicken and Rice into the Cuke+Yogurt mixture.
  7. Eat, enjoy, and be happy. The leftovers will keep for a few days, but they won't last that long.
*Substitutions: If you'd like to make this dish healthier (it's pretty healthy on its own already), you can substitute brown rice for white and string beans for the butter beans. If you're short on groceries and don't want to go to the store, you can substitute the chicken with ground beef or turkey (by the way, this is a GREAT way to use up Thanksgiving leftovers). I will warn you, though, any of these substituted versions will not be as good as the original. Just sayin'.


Brandi said...

You can still call them Persian. Most people I know from that area still refer to themselves as Persian from time to time.