When it comes to Arabic cooking there is always a lot of stuffing going on!
Where to start eating?!
They are blanched to soften, and then rolled with a rice and meat filling.
A popular dish is a whole stuffed sheep, or lamb, and if you don’t want to cook the whole animal then you can stuff the shoulder.
The meat is cut away from the ribs creating a pocket for the stuffing, and often more stuffing will be served on the side as well.
The meals that I personally am less ‘satisfied’ with, meaning I don’t like is when the cooks move inwards on the animal.
Intestines for example!
These are cleaned and stuffed with rice, meat, and chickpeas.
No different than making sausage, the difference is that sausage is not called intestines!
Better marketing for the sausage!
Stomach which is also known as tripe is also used.
The stomach is cleaned thoroughly and cut into squares, sewed into pouches and stuffed with the same stuffing used in intestines.
Not my favorite, but you have to admire that the whole animal is used and nothing is wasted.
All this talk of unusual food, and wasting nothing made me remember being at my grandfather’s house in Jerusalem when I was a kid.
What probably originated as a poor person’s food was the sheep’s heads, would show up on our table every once in a while to the delight of many in the family.
I was not one of those delighted, I would just eat the rice and meat stuffing they were served on.
In what I saw as true savage manner my relatives would proceed to bang and crack the heads open sucking the marrow from the bones.
I found this distasteful as a kid and wondered how I ended up in such a family!
I will however eat the stuffed chicken, it is a wonderful dish where you get tons of flavors and textures.
What could be better?
Rice Stuffed Chicken
For the Rice
- Turn down to a simmer, and place a top loosely over the pot leaving a gap for steam to escape.
- Cook until done. Roughly 20 minutes.
- Cook unti soft.
- Add lamb, and stir regularly to keep from burning.
- Cook until done, remove from heat.
- Preheat oven to 400°F (200°C)
- Place half the stuffing in the bottom of a glass baking dish.
- Stuff chicken with the other half of the stuffing.
- Place chicken in the dish on top of the rice filling and place in the oven.
- Cook until done, roughly one hour.