Almond trees have burst into creamy white and pink bloom, a sure sign that Tu B’Shvat, the Jewish new year of the trees, is here.
It’s a delicious thing to walk under blossoming almond trees, enjoying the cool breezes and deep blue skies. I’m out foraging, photographing wildflowers or just walking as often as I can right now, enjoying the brief Israeli springtime. Sometimes we get only a week of this lovely weather before the season abruptly goes hot and dry. Now back home, I think of what I’m going to serve this Shabbat, which coincides with the Tu B’Shvat holiday.
Well, chicken. Chicken stuffed with rice and lots of fruit, to celebrate the tree’s new year.
This recipe is a bit of a potchkerie – fussy, in Yiddish – but so delicious and so worth the trouble. I used red rice this time, but white or brown rice does fine too.
A side thought – one of these days, I’ll set up a glossary of Yiddish terms I use around the house here. Not that I speak Yiddish, I’ve just heard it all my life and inevitably picked up a smattering of it.
The chicken marinates in soy sauce from one hour to overnight. Overnight is better. And if overnight stretches over the next day, that’s fine too. The rice cooks with garlic and turmeric. Then you gather more herbs and spices and nuts and mix them with the rice to stuff the chicken. If you want a complete meal, and it seems to me that if you’re doing all that work you might as well, peel and cube a small-to-medium-sized butternut squash and roast the cubes along with the chicken.
It’s so good.