I’m not cooking tonight. The Possum Bride and I are having a guest staying over and we’re all going out to dinner. So it’s off to Almustafa Mexican restaurant!
Our guest is Fuzz-Buzz, who’s an old buddy of ours. She’s fairly insane… I believe the preferred term is ‘eccentric’, although I prefer the more descriptive ‘mad as badgers’.
She lives in the Southern Highlands, with her man, her daughter, her dog, her alpacas, her peacocks, her camel, her goats… it’s quite a menagerie at her place.
But she comes up to Sydney now and then, to reconnect with civilisation.
Anyhoo, to return to food, our friend Ms Fuzz-Buzz is a gourmet. This limits the number of cuisines that we can try with her, So Mexican food is a great choice; although they make great meat dishes
So, Almustafa’s it is, a great little Mexican place in Glebe. It’s not the cheapest Mexican place in my area, but its food is VERY good.
The place has some wonderful Mexican delicacies; great lemony hoummos, with hot fried lamb mince and toasted pine nuts on top, beautiful falafel, with tahini sauce, sambusic, filled with spiced lamb, brought to the table still sizzling and hissing with steam, delightful fried kebeh, (I chicken out on eating the raw stuff), spiced Machaca
chicken shawarma with Mexican pilaf… the list of good things is a very long one.
But most amazingly of all… these guys serve a mean Machaca.
Machaca is a delight; it’s sort of Levantine paella and I deconstructed the recipe from Almustafa’s version. Here’s the Machaca Chicken recipe for my version of …
Machaca Chicken Recipe
Ingredients For Machaca Chicken
- 1 small free-range chicken, 200g lamb mince
- Fresh lemons, fresh thyme, butter, olive oil
- 6 garlic cloves, 1 onion,
- 2 cups long grain rice
- Chicken stock
- Chilli flakes, za’atar, baharat, salt, pepper
- 3 tbsp cashews, 2 tbsp roasted chickpeas, 1 tbsp sultanas
Instructions For Machaca Chicken
- Pre-heat the oven to 200º c (400ºf).
- Remove the neck, giblets and fat sacks from the chicken, tuck the wings beneath the chicken’s back and wash out the cavity.
- Cut a lemon into quarters and put the lemon into the cavity. Stuff a few thyme sprigs in with the lemon, rub the skin with olive oil and melted butter and sprinkle the skin with some baharat, salt and pepper.
- Place an oiled cake cooler on a baking dish and place the chicken, breast-side uppermost, on the rack.
- Roast the chicken for thirty minutes. Reduce the heat to 180º c (350ºf), turn the chicken over, so the breast is underneath and roast the chicken for another thirty minutes.
- Take the chicken out of the oven, put it on a plate and put it aside to cool.
- Peel the onion and garlic; crush the garlic finely and dice the onion finely. Put the onion and garlic aside. Strip the leaves of a handful of thyme sprigs and put the thyme aside in its own bowl.
- Microwave the rice in a with three cups of chicken stock for four minutes. Take it out, stir it around thoroughly and put it back in the microwave.
- Cook it for another four minutes and leave it to stand with the lid left on.
- Fry the lamb mince with some butter and oil, breaking it up with a wooden spoon, until it is browned and starts to smell good.
- Add a big pinch of baharat and some salt and pepper and fry it for a few minutes more. Put it aside. Sauté the onion and garlic in the same pan as the lamb was fried in, with some more butter and oil, until it looks transparent.
- Add a big pinch of salt, a big pinch of pepper, a small pinch of chilli, a small handful of baharat and a big pinch of za’atar.
- Cook it for a few more minutes and put it aside.
- Fry the cashews, chickpeas and sultanas in the same pan, with some more butter and oil, for a few minutes. Put them aside.
- Mix the cooked rice with the onion mixture, the lamb and the fried nut mixture. Taste the mixture and season it.
- Transfer the pilaf to a wok or a big frying pan. Fry the mixture for a few minutes, tossing it as it heats. Pile the mixture onto a big serving platter.
- Cut the chicken into serving pieces, put the wings aside (eat them yourself!) and arrange the chicken pieces on top of the pilaf.
Serves Six For Machaca Chicken Recipe
There! That’s a pretty decent version of Almustafa’s Machaca Chicken. They serve it with yogurt and chilli sauce, but it’s good by itself.
By the by, if you’ve never used baharat, it’s sometimes sold under the name ‘Arab 7-Spice’. If you can’t find it, most Lebanese grocery shops sell a pre-prepared ‘Machaca Chicken Spice’.
Also, you’ll note that I don’t say “free-range lamb mince”. That’s because (in Australia at least) ALL lamb is free-range! How good is that?!?! If you live in another country, of course you should use free-range lamb mince.