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Tuesday, January 3, 2012



Photo by: inter-
domestic fowl was of capital importance for its nutritional value in Iberia during the Middle Ages. The way in which it was consumed was varied and original recipes still exist marking the most glorious period of Al-Andalus gastronomy. 

Frequently, birds were eaten fried, chopped for an omelet, as pastry filling, stuffing or a preserve. Roasters were put in the cooking pot for festivities. The meat could be caramelized or covered with starch. 

Eggs provided supper and enriched soup, especially for the sick. Left over eggs went to market, producing coins to buy necessities. 

Chickens lay fertilized eggs in March and chicks appear in May. (This is why it was prohibited to eat eggs during Lent in the Middle Ages.) 

See aves, serenar, and volatiles. [Ares. “Comidas.” 1994:116; Benavides-Barajas. Alhambra. 1999:16:127; and Benavides-Barajas. Nueva-Clásica. 1995:219]

For 4 persons

1 chicken about 2 lbs with entrails

For the stuffing:
¼ c or 1/8 ratl almonds
¼  c or 1/8 ratl pinenuts
1 tbsp cilantro juice (a sm bunch of cilantro)
1 tbsp 2 murri
1 tsp cinnamon
1 tsp pepper
salt to taste
1 ½ tbsp mixed herbs such as thyme, parsley and tarragon
1 tbsp pistachio juice (1/4 c pistachios)
6 raw eggs
4 hard boiled eggs

For boiling the chicken:
water to cover the chicken
1 tbsp virgin olive oil

For the sauce
1/3 c virgin olive oil
½ tbsp vinegar
1 c or ½ ratl water
3 1/8 c or 1 ½ ratl honey
¾ c or 5 3ûqiyas starch
1 ½ tsp sediment from vinegar or 2 4dirhams of 5'akar (lees)
1 splash rosewater

Photo from: chefzadi.com
For the isfîriyâ  (croquet)
3 eggs
1/4 c breadcrumbs
1/4 c virgin olive oil

For the mirqâs (sausage)
¼ lb lamb
1 mashed garlic clove
1 tsp murri
1 tsp chopped cilantro
1 stalk fennel chopped
1 egg


Slit the throat of a plump chicken, clean it and take out the entrails.

For the stuffing:

Put a small bunch of cilantro in a food processor. Add enough water to cover and turn food processor on high. When the leaves are chopped and water is very green, strain and set aside.

Put pistachios in a food processor. Turn it on high and grind the nuts into a fine flour. Add enough ¼ c water to cover. Turn the machine on high until all is well blended and strain and set aside.

Separate the guts and coarsely grind the liver and giblets. Add almonds and pinenuts, cilantro juice, murri, spices, herbs and pistachio juice and beat with 6 raw eggs. Stuff the chicken with it and insert the hard-boiled eggs in it and sew it up.

Cooking the chicken:
Put water and oil into the pot, and place the chicken in it.  Bring it to a gentle boil and then reduce heat to simmer. Cook it, without overdoing doing it, about 1 hr.

The author making mirqâs
Photo from: Lord-Williams
For the sauce:
Put oil, vinegar, water, and honey into another pot and bring it to a boil. Add the chicken. When the sauce is well blended cover it with the startch, vinegar sediment and rosewater. Agitate the pot carefully until it is thick. Remove it from the heat.

For the isfîriyâ:
Slice off a piece of breast from the chicken. Grind it. Beat 2 eggs and mix them with the breast. Make isfîriyâ into the shape of a ball(s). Bread them by rolling them in 1 egg beaten and dipping them into breadcrumbs. Fry them in olive oil with the mirqâs.

For the mirqâs:
Turn the intestines inside out and wash them thoroughly.
Grind the lamb and sauté it with the garlic. Beat the egg. Mix these with murri and herbs. Stuff mirqâs (instestine) with this, tie it and prick it. Fry them with the isfîriyâ.

Remove the stuffing from the chicken and place it with the chicken in its sauce, isfîriyâ and mirqâs on a platter and serve, God willing.

1 See arrelde published November 15th, 2011, 1 ratl equals 468.75 gr, a little over 1 lb. One cup is liquid 225 gr.
2 See Almorí with Bysantine Murri Recipe published August 25, 2011
3 1 ûqiya=39 g, about 1 1/3 ozs or 7 tsp
4 1 dirham=3.9 g, or 3/4 teaspoon.
5 the sediment from vinegar.

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