These Circassian Chicken Choux puffs have a filling of roasted chicken and a smooth sauce flavored with paprika, cumin, chili, garlic and green onion and thickened with ground walnuts.
My cousin’s request to assist her daughter with a savory choux puff for a practical test at school was like a blast from the past. I remembered the home made smoked snoek mousse and cream cheese and smoked salmon that were some of my catering clients’ favorites, but those seemed like such obvious choices.
Not everyone likes fish so for this exercise I adapted the Circassian chicken recipe learnt in Istanbul at my cooking class with Cookistan Turkish Cooking classes.
The chef who taught the class mentioned that her grandmother used to make Circassian chicken and she had recipes handed down in their family, as was the fair skin and blonde hair. In the days of the Ottoman empire, Circassian women were known for their beauty and filled the imperial harems.
The Circassian chicken choux puffs may not be an authentic Turkish recipe, but I quite liked the fusion of the crisp choux bun with the textured and flavourful chicken and walnut filling. I would definitely serve bite size portions of these as appetisers or finger food at a party.
Circassian chicken choux puffs
- 1 quantity of choux pastry
- 1 cooked chicken breast (poached or roasted chicken will do equally well as long as it is moist)
- 250 ml few days old bread (approximately 1 cup or 3 slices with crusts removed, not mouldy)
- 60 ml chicken broth or hot water to soak the bread
- 140 grams walnuts (smashed)
- 2 cloves garlic (smashed or finely grated)
- 45 ml mayonnaise (approximately 3 tablespoons)
- 125 ml yoghurt (approximately 1/2 cup)
- 2.5 ml ground cumin (approximately 1/2 teaspoon)
- 1.25 ml black pepper (approximately 1/4 teaspoon)
- 1.25 ml chili flakes (approximately 1/4 teaspoon)
- 1.25 ml paprika
- 1.25 ml salt (adjust to taste)
- 2.5 ml paprika
- 5 ml parsley
- Finely shred or chop the chicken breast into a bowl.
- Soak the bread with 60 ml chicken broth. It should not be soggy so squeeze the excess liquid from the bread and crumble over the shredded chicken.
- Place the garlic cloves in the corner of a plastic bag. Place the walnuts in the opposite corner.
- With a pestle, smash the garlic until it is a fine paste then smash the walnuts until medium ground.
- Mix the garlic and walnut paste smash together to meld the flavors.
- Empty the contents into the bowl with the chicken and bread.
- Add the mayonnaise, yoghurt, cumin, black pepper and chili flakes and mix until combined.
- Taste and adjust the seasoning.
- If the mixture seems too stiff add more mayonnaise or yoghurt to reach the desired consistency. Do not make the chicken mixture too sloppy as it will make the choux puffs wet and soggy.
- Fill the choux puffs and sprinkle with paprika and chopped herbs.
- If a finer texture is preferred then the mixture may be ground in a blender.
Nutritional information for the recipe is an approximation and varies according to the ingredients and products used.
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