Casseroles from the Capitol: Russian Chicken Julienne

Music Pairing: Bach, Orchestral Suites and Violin Concertos

Story

First, a confession: a Russian julienne is a classic dish commonly served in Moscow, but we are missing a core ingredient…mushrooms!  Afa remembers being 8 and traveling back to Moscow with her parents.  There, her father introduced her to what is a classic delicacy: a mushroom julienne.  Afa remembers disliking the distinctive taste of marinated mushrooms, which immediately relegated the dish into the “do not repeat” category, until…Fast forward many years, during one of the early potlucks during our student years, Afa offers to make a dish from home and describes it to Aaron, who says: this sounds great, except the mushroom part.  Intrigued by a shared dislike, Afa agrees to try the recipe without the mushrooms (another confession….the olive oil in a classic recipe should be substituted by butter, but at that time, Afa was trying to eat more healthy, so, here we have it).  The dish became a hit, as we modified it together for years, reducing the amount of sour cream, adding some spices, until this ended up being a more classically served staple.  The truth is, this relatively simple dish became something we more frequently make for our guests, who love it.  The musical pairing comes from our joint love of Bach and Afa’s particular affinity for Vladimir Spivakov’s Moscow Virtuosi, which she credits for her early inspiration to play the violin.  Much later in life, we created the Sphinx Virtuosi, our version of such an ensemble of soloists, for whom we have lovingly made the julienne during the national tour.

Recipe

  • 1 C thinly sliced onions
  • 4 cloves minced garlic
  • 3 T olive oil
  • 2 t cumin
  • 1 T salt
  • 1 T adobo seasoning
  • 1 T fresh ground pepper
  • 2 bay leaves
  • 2 T smoky paprika (sweet smoky preferred)
  • 2 C shredded parmesan cheese
  • 1/2 C sour cream
  • ½ white meat chicken
  • ½ C bread crumbs

DIRECTIONS:

  1. Boil the chicken in salty water, also adding the bay leaf and the pepper.  This process should take a full hour, or until the chicken is literally falling apart enough to be gently pulled.  Often, we choose the slow cooker method overnight.  Set it aside to cool off in room temperature.  Drain the chicken, but hold on to the broth and do not discard!
  2. Preheat oven to 400 degrees Fahrenheit
  3. In a large pan or cast iron skillet gently heat the oil. Next, add the onions and garlic, sautéing until golden brown, but not beyond (on low-medium heat)
  4. Once the chicken is cool enough to handle, thinly pull all of it and add it to the onion/garlic mixture.   Next add the spices and the sour cream, followed by ½ of the parmesan cheese and ¾-1 C of the homemade chicken broth you created by boiling the chicken (ensure that the mixture is not too dry nor too soup-like)

Heat the mixture, stirring gently.  Portion the complete mixture into either a shallow baking pan or individual crème brulee sized dishes.  Sprinkle with the rest of the cheese and bread crumbs, adding a bit of optional smoky paprika on top.  Bake for 10 minutes and broil for about 2-4 mins on high to give it a beautiful crust.  Enjoy with a glass of Riesling or sparking wine!

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