Hubs’ favorite food of all time is his mother’s Chicken Sumac over Tadiq. We don’t know if Chicken Sumac is a “true” traditional Persian dish because she said she made it up when Hubs was just a wee thing. But it definitely uses Persian ingredients. And he LOVES it.
I’ve Americanized it a bit by taking out the flour, adding in ground flax seed and putting it on the grill (his mother usually pan fries it in vegetable oil). And, in case you haven’t had it before (you really should…it is DIVINE), tadiq, in short, is Persian rice cooked with either oil or yogurt or potatoes on the bottom to form a thick crust. Since we are not eating rice right now, and focused more on other whole grains* when we do have a grain (our logic isn’t 100% foolproof…), I made barley, risotto style, with parmesan, red wine and sauteed onions and mushrooms. As a green side, I cut asparagus diagonally into 3/4″ pieces and wilted some fresh spinach leaves and topped with balsamic glaze. The whole meal worked really well together. The chicken is very easy to prepare. The risotto style barley needs constant maintenance but didn’t take longer than 30 minutes to pull together. The risotto and asparagus can be completely simultaneously.
* Because rice is one of his favorite things and to make tadiq you have to make enough for like five people, he will eat a lot of it. By using other whole grains and only making smaller portions, we eat less. Plus, the whole grains have a lower glycemic index than basmati rice.
- As many boneless, skinless breasts as you have people
- Ground flaxseed
- Grapeseed oil
- Trader Joe’s 10 minute Barley (I only used about half a cup for 3 people)
- 1/2 of a vidalia onion, finely chopped
- 1/4 of a red onion, finely chopped
- 3 tablespoons olive oil
- 1 overflowing cup of dried shitake mushrooms that are then chopped small and rehydrated with hot water
- 1 cup of red wine
- 4 cups of chicken broth
- Grated parmesan to taste
- 1 bunch of asparagus, cut diagonally into 3/4″ pieces
- 3 cups of fresh spinach leaves
- tiny bit of salt
- sprinkle of balsamic glaze
Chop the dried shitakes first and then pour very hot water over them to rehydrate and let that sit. In a pot, pour the chicken broth and bring to a simmer. When the mushrooms have rehydrated, with a strainer, pour the liquid into the pot with the broth and reserve the mushrooms. Be sure to push the liquid out of the mushrooms with a spoon.
In a 12 inch saute pan, put the 3 tablespoons of olive oil and turn to medium high. When the oil is shimmering, add the onions and cook until they are translucent (about five minutes). This is a good time to trim and cut the asparagus.
Then add the mushrooms to the pan with the onions and cook until the mushrooms start to brown (another five minutes or so).
When those seem close to finished, add the barley to the pan and mix them in with the onions and mushrooms until they are slightly toasted and coated with oil (another five minutes). Pour in slowly the red wine and let the barley absorb the liquid, stirring often. Once absorbed, dip a measuring cup into the simmering broth and add a cup to the barley, stirring it in.
While this is absorbing, heat a tablespoon of oil in another saute pan and add the asparagus of medium heat. Let these saute until the color starts to get a vibrant green. Keep an eye on the barley and add a cupful of broth each time it is absorbed and stir.
Add the spinach on top of the asparagus and let that wilt down for about a minute and then turn it so that the asparagus is on top. Keep turning it until the spinach is wilted but not overcooked. Turn off the heat once the spinach seems cooked.
This is a good time to taste the barley to see if it needs more broth. You want this cooked al dente with some bite left in the grain. Soggy won’t taste as awesome.
When the last of the liquid is absorbed and the taste of the barley tastes perfectly cooked, turn off the heat. We will come back and finish it off after cooking the chicken.
The chicken doesn’t need much prep…but the most important thing is to make sure that the chicken is all the same thickness. As the chicken had already been defrosting in a zip lock bag, I pounded it down to equal thickness while still in the bag.
I then took them out and patted them down with paper towels. I put a bit of grapeseed oil on each side and then added about a teaspoon of sumac and a teaspoon of flax seed, salt and pepper to taste to each side of the chicken, rubbing it in on both sides.
Get the grill clean and hot (I like my chicken cooked at about 450-500 degrees on a closed lid grill) and place the pieces on there with a LOT of space in between. Give them room to cook. When the bottom side begins to get grill marks and the side seems to become opaque, flip them. Cook until an istaread thermometer reads 160. Take them off, put them on a clean plate and stare at their gorgeousness! Smell the lemony sumac!
Now go inside and finish up the risotto style barley. Turn the heat back up, stirring occasionally (add a bit more of the broth if needed…which should still be simmering). Add salt and pepper to taste…butter if you want to be a bit more indulgent…a splash more red wine to be SUPER indulgent… and the parmesan. Lots and lots of parmesan. Probably ended up at 1/4 cup of grated parm. I forgot that I had wanted to add parsley. Completely forgot. Could be good!
Serve and enjoy. We definitely did. It felt totally indulgent without being terrible for us. Comfort food, Suhlizi style.