1 cup rice
2 cups chicken stock (additional ⅔ cup later)
3 chicken breasts
2 garlic cloves
1 bay leaf
¼ teaspoon pepper
½ teaspoon salt
⅔ cup chicken stock
3 pita loaves or rounds
3 tablespoons vegetable oil
1½ tablespoons lemon juice
¼ cup tahini
2 cups plain yogurt
1½ tablespoon ghee or butter
1 cup almonds, cashews, pistachios, or combination (slivered or halves)
½ tablespoon parsley
2 casserole dishes
Preheat oven to 450 degrees. Add rice and 2 cups chicken stock to rice cooker or pot. Cook rice according to instructions on package. While rice cooks, cut chicken into 1″ cubes. Mince garlic cloves. Add chicken cubes, garlic, bay leaf, pepper, salt, and ⅔ cup chicken stock to first casserole dish. Coat chicken cubes thoroughly. Bake at 450 degrees for 45minutes. Stir every 15 minutes to keep chicken from drying out. Remove bay leaf.
While chicken bakes, cut pita rounds into 1″ squares. Add pita squares and oil to pan. Sauté at medium-high heat for 5 minutes or until pita squares turn golden brown. Place pita squares on paper towels.
Add lemon juice, tahini, and yogurt to mixing bowl. Mix gently with spoon. Add ghee and nuts to pan. Toast them on medium-high heat for 5 minutes or until they start turning golden brown. Stir constantly.
Add sautéed pitas squares to second casserole dish. Smooth with fork. Add rice. Smooth with fork. Add lemon juice/tahini/yogurt sauce. Smooth gently with fork. Add chicken cubes. Smooth with, oh what the heck, spoon. Sprinkle sautéed nuts and parsley over chicken cubes.
Serve to guests who darn well better appreciate all the effort you made preparing this wonderful dish.
1) Syria has many people.
2) People have bones in them.
3) There are enough bones in the human body to enable a person to stand up with enough bones leftover for arms and hands.
4) Arms and hands are used to drink root beer from glass mugs.
5) Root beer tastes like good childhood memories.
6) There is a man in Syria called Ryan.
7) Ryan drank root beer. He had a good childhood.
8) He’s old now, but as a child was very well liked.
9) People used to greet each other with, “Is Ryan healthy?” or “Is Ryan happy?” or “Is Ryan drinking root beer?” or even, “Is Ryan doing his econometrics homework?”
10) This happened so often that when the region became independent of France in 1946 people naturally wanted to call their country “Isryan.”
11) However, Ryan, a perpetually modest man, demurred.
12) But the people persisted. Isryan. Stamps with Isryan were printed.
13) Ryan demurred.
14) Fortunately, the World Anagramist Society met in Damascus a scant two weeks after independence.
15) They suggested Syrian for the name of the country. The people were contented. “As long as ‘Is Ryan’ in their somehow. Ryan was happy as well. He could pretend the country wasn’t named after him.
16) Remarkably, it took until 2002, the year the Angels finally won the World Series, for people to realize than Syrian sounds more like someone from Syria than a country. So after consulting Ryan and getting his permission, the people held a referendum and changed the country’s name to Syria.
17) If ever come across a stamp bearing the word “Isryan” save it, for goodness sake. It’s quite valuable.
– Chef Paul
My cookbook, Eat Me: 169 Fun Recipes From All Over the World, and my newest novel, Do Lutheran Hunks Eat Mushrooms, are available in paperpack
or Kindle on amazon.com
The cookbook is also available as an e-book on Nook
or on my website-where you can get a signed copy at: www.lordsoffun.com
One thought on “Chicken Casserole and How Syria Got Its Name, the Reason Might Shock You”
Ryan was a stand up kind of a guy.
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