Is there anything more satisfying than biting into a salty, flavorful, crisp piece of fried chicken? I know I have a particular weakness for the stuff (it’s my post-workout week splurge). Perfecting fried chicken is not easy, and it’s taken me years to create a recipe that I’m fully happy with. Of course, leaving it well alone is not an option, so I created my own twist with saffron. Saffron is used in a lot of Middle Eastern and South Asian marinades, oftentimes with yogurt, and it complements the flavor of chicken amazingly. Fried chicken was my perfect reason to break into the saffron stash. So the reality is that there are a few (worthwhile!) steps here. I marinate the chicken in saffron buttermilk that serves to brine the chicken, make it even juicier, and deeply infuse it with all of the marinade ingredients — a pinch of saffron, garlic, a touch of mustard. Then, I double-dip the chicken to create a super-crisp crust, and let it air-dry while the meat loses its chill. Finally, frying at the perfect temperature ensures fried chicken nirvana — crisp, flavorful, aromatic, tender, and juicy. Enjoy! Click here to see 7 Must-Have Spices.
Don’t worry — that’s not mustard in the picture. That would be sacrilege. It’s a saffron aïoli with toasted garlic and ginger, and the characteristic color comes from saffron. In other words, it’s fancy mayo. There will definitely be some leftover (there isn’t really a way to make less, unless you don’t mind going to the trouble of splitting an egg evenly; ratios are ratios after all), but it shouldn’t be hard to think of ways to use up the rest. Using only extra-virgin olive oil would make for a bitter mayo, so it's toned down with an equal measure of canola oil.
Make this for the special someone in your life, and I guarantee you, the fireworks will happen — or at the very least, the house will smell like bacon and toasted garlic. Which is never a bad thing.
Click here to see the Bacon: It's What's for Dinner story.
Throughout the centuries saffron has been a symbol of wealth and elegance. Cleopatra used saffron water to keep her skin soft. Roman Emperor Nero sprinkled the streets with saffron water to honor his return to Rome. Persians considered it a tonic for the heart as it was thought to alleviate melancholy. (However, they believed too much of it could produce a state of euphoria and even death from too much laughter!).
A spice consisting of the dried stigmas of the saffron crocus, it was introduced into Spain by the Arabs, and later cultivated in Mediterranean regions and elsewhere in Europe. In France, it was grown by “safraniers” in the sixteenth century. In England, the Essex town of Saffron Walden became the center of saffron cultivation.
Rice was introduced into Italy during the Middle Ages by Venetian or Genoese merchants who traded with the east. The earliest documentation of rice cultivation in Italy dates to 1475. Risotto is specific to northern Italy where rice paddies are abundant. — Maite Gomez-Réjon.
Adapted from the ArtBites tour of the Los Angeles County Museum of Art.
Saffron is one of those intimidating spices that many people love to eat, but have no idea how to handle. Handpicked stamens of the crocus sativus, saffron is also somewhat rare and very expensive, costing anywhere from $500 to $5000 a pound. Luckily, you only need a pinch or two to add tremendous saffron flavor to a meal. Adding saffron to risotto and other rice dishes is a great way to start experimenting with it. When buying saffron, make sure the threads are bright red and dry.
Served on a bed of sautéed spinach, this dish has very little fat and loads of healthy protein and iron. The subtle flavor of saffron, orange, and garlic add a punch to the dish without adding a ton of calories.
The radiant orange spice, saffron, has been studied and shown to be as effective as certain antidepressant drugs such as imipramine and fluoxetine. Saffron also helps with mood swings and depression associated with PMS. Make tea with a pinch of saffron and experience these amazing effects.
Read more about 12 Teas That Boost Your Mood.
In Persian cuisine, this is traditionally a peasant dish made with lamb called 'tah cheen' because tah means “bottom” and cheen means “to layer"; and the dish is essentially layers of rice and meat. The bottom of the pan produces the delicious, flavorful and crispy layer of rice called tah-deeg that gives it the look of a golden brown cake. This recipe is made with boneless chicken, but fish, lamb or a whole chicken are other options. In the Persian tradition, tah cheen should be paired with yogurt, herbs and eaten immediately so that the tah-deeg does not become soggy.As most Persians cooks do not use measurements or recipes because they develop their own during a lifetime of cooking, the cuisine is both challenging and rewarding for the novice cook. A blending of scribbled notes, directions, and tips from my parents and grandmother along with the cookbook A Taste of Persia by Najmieh Batmanglij produced this recipe for tah cheen.Good luck and enjoy!
Add vegetables and this doubles as a perfectly good summer soup. I use asparagus stock here because this sauce is going to accompany my Asparagus Paella, but feel free to replace it with basic stock.
Click here to read the full story on Dirt Candy: A Cookbook.
I’m on a whole-fruit-as-dessert kick. There’s just something so elegant and simple about serving a piece of fruit in its whole and natural state, lightly sweetened and topped with nothing but a bit of ice cream or crème chantilly.
The saffron not only adds a lovely flavor but also an orange tint to the syrup that stains the pears ever so slightly, giving them a deep, golden glow.
Recipe adapted from Ian Hancock, We Are the Romani peopleGaluški is a lovely dessert of marzipan dumplings served in milk, sort of like a warm cereal. Because my mother hates marzipan, we used to just eat basmati rice with lots of milk, sugar, and cinnamon, which, if you haven’t tried it, is also quite lovely. In this decadent version of Galuški, the vanilla, cinnamon, nutmeg, and saffron perfume the milk and complement the almonds’ delicate flavor. Pairs well with Papusza’s poetry and “Romani tea.”Read How to Eat Like a Real Gypsy here
Fregola is a type of pasta that hails from Sardinia, an island located off the west coast of Italy. Its chewy texture and appearance are reminiscent of Israeli couscous, so if you can't find fregola, it will make a decent substitute in this dish; just adjust the cooking time appropriately to make sure it retains its pleasant chewiness.
Click here to see A Pasta Cookbook for All Seasons.