Shaariya medfouna (Buried in vermicelli)

Time 2 hours 50 minutes
Yields Serves 10 or more
Shaariya medfouna (Buried in vermicelli)
(Los Angeles Times)

Use two deep pans and put one chicken into each. Into each pan, pour 2 1/4 cups water, bring to a boil and remove the scum; add two chopped onions, 1 teaspoon cinnamon, one-half teaspoon ginger and one-half teaspoon saffron. Add salt and pepper and simmer, covered, for about 1 hour, turning the chickens occasionally.


Lift out the chickens and, when cool enough to handle, remove the skin and bones and cut the meat into medium-size pieces.


Pour the chicken stock with the onions into one pan only and reduce it by boiling it down until it becomes a thick sauce, about 45 minutes. Skim off excess fat. Stir in 4 tablespoons (one-half stick) of butter, the honey and orange blossom water, if using, and cook a few minutes more. Taste; add salt and pepper if necessary. Add the parsley and cilantro, and return the chicken pieces to the sauce. All this can be done in advance and reheated when you are about to serve.


Fry the almonds in the oil until lightly browned, stirring, then drain them on paper towels. Coarsely chop, or crush them with a mortar and pestle.


Just before serving, break the vermicelli into small pieces by crushing the nests in your hands. Cook the noodles in rapidly boiling salted water for 5 minutes, until al dente, stirring vigorously at the start so that the threads do not stick together in lumps. Drain very quickly and then pour them back into the pan. Stir in the remaining butter, cut into small pieces, and some salt.


Put the chicken with its sauce into a very large, deep, round serving dish. Cover with a mountain of vermicelli, and decorate with lines of the remaining cinnamon, powdered sugar, if using, and chopped almonds emanating from the center like rays.

From “Arabesque: A Taste of Morocco, Turkey, & Lebanon” by Claudia Roden. This recipe can be cut in half. Orange blossom water is available at Middle Eastern markets and gourmet shops.

Betty Hallock was the deputy Food editor, covering all things food and drink for the Saturday section and Daily Dish blog. She started at The Times in 2001 in the Business section and previously worked on the National desk at the Wall Street Journal in New York. She’s a graduate of UCLA and New York University.
Get our new Cooking newsletter, coming soon.
You may occasionally receive promotional content from the Los Angeles Times.