CHICKEN WITH FREEKEH
1 medium whole chicken
1½ cups freekeh
2 quarts water
3 cinnamon sticks
6 tablespoons butter (optional)
½ teaspoon allspice berries
¼ teaspoon pepper
A handful each of parsley, cilantro and mint, roughly chopped
Lemons, halved, for serving
Rinse the chicken and place it in a heavy stockpot with the freekeh, water and cinnamon. Bring to a boil and skim any froth that develops on the surface of the water. Cover the pot and reduce the heat to medium-low. Cook the chicken for 1 hour, being sure not to let the water boil hard.
Meanwhile, toast the allspice berries in a dry skillet until fragrant, stirring constantly. Transfer to a mortar and crush until fine.
When the chicken is done, use two large forks to lift it carefully from the cooking liquid. Make sure you tilt the cavity of the chicken downward so that the hot liquid secreted inside runs back into the pot.
Place the chicken on a large baking sheet and set aside to cool slightly. Remove the cinnamon sticks from the pot and discard, then turn the heat under the pot to low. Cover the pot and leave the freekeh to continue cooking gently while you remove and discard the skin from the bird. Shred the flesh from the bones and then into bite-size pieces. Stir the chicken meat into the freekeh and continue cooking for 20 minutes, adding more water if the pan becomes too dry.
Meanwhile, if desired, melt the butter in a saucepan and cook until it is nut-brown. Stir the butter into the freekeh stew. Season with the allspice and pepper, adding salt to taste. Sprinkle with the chopped herbs. Serve hot, with the lemon halves.
Serves 6 to 8.
Recipe from “Super Grains” by Jenni Muir (Octopus Books USA; $29.99)
— Heidi Knapp Rinella