Cerkez Tavugu or Circassian chicken salad is a traditional Turkish salad of chicken and a creamy walnut infused garlic sauce. Apparently, the pale colour of the sauce can be likened to the complexion of the beautiful ladies from Circassia, a region of the Caucus mountains, hence the name. I absolutely love this recipe and it’s my favourite recipe from my blog along with Zaalouk to date. This recipe can be easily made gluten free by using some suitable bread where required. If you have leftover chicken this is a great way to use it up substituting the below cooking stock for shop bought stock. Serves 4-6.
1 whole free range chicken – all skin and excess fat removed
2 onions – quartered
2 carrots – in chunks
2 sticks of celery – chopped
1 bay leaf
2 slices of bread with crusts
2 cloves of garlic – crushed
175g walnuts – crushed
1 tsp. of paprika
2 tsps. of olive oil
2 tbsps. of fresh parsley – chopped
2 tbsps. of walnuts – chopped
Salt and fresh ground black pepper
Put the chicken in a large pot with the onion, celery, carrot, bay leave and cover with cold water and bring to the boil. Simmer gently for 45-50 minutes or until cooked through. Remove the chicken and set aside to cool. When the chicken is cold, take as much meat from the bones as possible, tearing into strips and place it in a large bowl. Simmer the remaining stock until it has reduced down by half and strain when done and set it aside also to cool down. When this stock liquid is cold, pour half of it onto the bread in a small bowl and leave to soak through for about 15 minutes. Using a pestle and mortar crush the garlic cloves with 1 tsp of salt into a fine paste. If you don’t have a pestle and mortar you can use the back of a spoon and chopping board to crush it. Remove the soaked bread from the liquid squeezing out any excess liquid and add the bread to a food processor and begin to whizz it. While the food processor is still running gradually add the garlic and then the walnuts to make a smooth paste. Now gently add some of the reserved stock until you have the desired consistency. I like the consistency to be quite creamy but if you like a lighter sauce then add more liquid stock to the blender. Add this sauce to the chicken in the bowl and combine well to coat all the chicken strips. Season with salt and pepper to taste. Mix the olive oil and paprika together in a cup and drizzle this mixture over the chicken salad. Crumble some chopped walnuts onto and finally garnish with chopped parsley before serving.