Perde Pilavi-veiled pilaf from Savuers Top 100 Favourites
photo by Christopher Hirsheimer
Istanbul chef Musa Dagdeviren makes this Turkish wedding dish in both large and individual sizes. According to lore, the crust symbolizes a new couple's house; the nuts, the couple themselves; and the currants, all their future babies.
(Pilaf "Veiled" in a Pastry Crust)
FOR THE DOUGH:
5 cups high-protein flour
2/3 cup milk
1/2 cup yogurt
6 tablespoons olive oil
1 teaspoon salt
FOR THE FILLING:
1 whole 4-5 lb. chicken, cut into 8-10 pieces
1 onion, peeled and chopped
1 medium carrot, trimmed, peeled and chopped
2 ribs celery, chopped
3 tablespoons fresh lemon juice
5 cups baldo rice or other short-grain rice
12 tablespoons butter
2 cups sliced, blanched almonds
1 cup pine nuts
1 1/2 cups dried currants, soaked in warm water for 20 minutes, then drained and squeezed
4 teaspoons dried oregano
2-4 teaspoons ground allspice
1 1/2 teaspoons freshly ground black pepper
2 teaspoons finely chopped dill
20 mint leaves, finely chopped
6 scallions, white parts only, minced
10 tablespoons butter, softened
1/2 cup blanched almond halves
1. For the dough: Put flour, eggs, milk, yogurt, oil, and salt into a large bowl. Using your hands, mix dough until a rough ball forms. Turn dough out onto a lightly floured surface and knead until dough comes together into a smooth ball, 3-4 minutes. Cover with plastic wrap and let rest for 1 hour.
2. For the filling: Put chicken, onions, carrots, celery, and lemon juice into a large pot. Add 6 cups water, season to taste, cover, and bring to a boil over medium-high heat. Reduce heat to medium-low and simmer until chicken is cooked through, 20-25 minutes. Transfer chicken to a plate; cool slightly. Remove and discard skin and bones. Shred chicken and set aside. Strain and degrease remaining broth. Set aside 5 cups broth, reserving the rest for another use.
3. Wash rice, then soak in lightly salted water for 20 minutes. Drain rice. Melt butter in a large pot over medium heat. Add nuts and cook, stirring often, until golden, about 10 minutes. Add rice and toast until opalescent, 10-12 minutes. Stir in reserved chicken, stock, and currants and season to taste with salt. Cover, reduce heat to medium-low, and cook, stirring occasionally, until liquid has absorbed and rice is softened but not fully cooked, 20-25 minutes. Remove pot from heat and set aside, covered, to let rest for 10 minutes. Stir in oregano, allspice, pepper, dill, mint and scallions. Adjust seasonings and set aside.
4. To assemble, preheat oven to 375°. Grease bottom and sides of a 6-quart ovenproof pot with butter. Arrange almonds, round side out, along bottom ring of pot and around the sides in vertical straight lines spaced 4" apart. On a lightly floured surface, roll out dough into a 23-inch circle. Fit dough into pot, pressing it firmly into almonds. Trim dough around edges of pot to leave a 2-inch overhang. Transfer filling to pot and gently pull edges of dough over filling. Bake pilaf, covered, with a baking sheet set on rack below it to catch any drips of butter, for 30 minutes. Uncover pilaf and bake until golden, 30 minutes. Let rest for 15–20 minutes, then invert pilaf onto a plate. Serve warm.