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Circassian Chicken

Engin Akin's version of this classic dish is a chicken salad with a creamy walnut sauce. She garnishes the salad with a drizzle of fragrant walnut oil.

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  • Servings: About 5 cups

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  • One 3-pound chicken
  • 2 1/2 quarts plus 1 cup water
  • 1 small onion, halved
  • 1 carrot, halved
  • 2 whole cloves
  • Salt
  • 4 thin slices white sandwich bread (3 ounces), crusts removed
  • 3 cups walnuts (3/4 pound), chopped
  • 2 teaspoons ground coriander
  • 2 garlic cloves, minced
  • 1 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
  • 2 1/2 teaspoons crushed red pepper
  • 2 tablespoons French walnut oil


  1. In a large pot, cover the chicken with 2 1/2 quarts of the water. Add the onion, carrot, cloves and a large pinch of salt and bring to a boil. Reduce the heat to low, skim the broth and simmer until the chicken is cooked through, about 1 hour and 15 minutes.
  2. Transfer the chicken to a platter and let cool slightly. Skim the fat from the broth and measure 1 cup; reserve the remaining broth for another use. Remove the meat from the chicken and discard the skin and bones. Cut the chicken meat into bite-size pieces and transfer to a medium bowl.
  3. In a shallow bowl, soak the bread in the remaining 1 cup of water until softened, then squeeze dry. In a food processor, combine 2 1/2 cups of the walnuts with the reserved 1 cup of broth, the bread, coriander, garlic, black pepper and 1 1/2 teaspoons of crushed red pepper; process to a coarse puree and add to the chicken. Finely grind the remaining 1/2 cup of walnuts in the food processor and stir into the chicken. Season the salad with salt and transfer to a serving bowl.
  4. In a small saucepan, warm the walnut oil over low heat. Add the remaining 1 teaspoon of crushed red pepper and cook for 1 minute. Drizzle the hot oil over the chicken salad and serve at room temperature.

Make Ahead

The chicken salad can be refrigerated overnight. Drizzle on the hot oil just before serving.

Contributed By Published April 2001

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