The Beer Lover’s Table: Baked Saffron Rice and Chicken (Tachin) with Whiplash Clap Hands American Wheat

There are some dishes it’s worth turning on your oven for, even in the height of summer. Tachin is one of them. I first tried, and loved, tachin - a Persian dish of baked saffron rice, layered with stewed chicken—several years ago. Recently, a recipe in Bon Appétit encouraged me to try making it myself.

Tachin really is a showstopper of a dish. Made sunny-yellow with copious quantities of saffron, featuring braised chicken and tart barberries, it’s baked until its outside turn crisp and burnished (that crunchy layer of rice, known as tahdig, is completely irresistible). It does require effort, but the feat of having pulled it off makes it all worthwhile.

Whiplash has been brewing remarkable beers for a while now, and Clap Hands, the Irish brewery’s American wheat beer, is no exception. Lively and bright, with the big, fluffy head that you’d expect from the style, Clap Hands is also abundantly hopped with Mosaic, El Dorado, and Lemondrop. That lends it a bold apricot character, plus a touch of tropical sweetness. It pairs seamlessly with the hearty and rich tachin, and complements its saffron perfume beautifully.

Baked Saffron Rice and Chicken (Tachin)
Adapted from Bon Appétit

Serves 6-8

For the chicken:
450g bone-in, skin-on chicken thighs and drumsticks
1 large yellow onion, roughly chopped
2 garlic cloves, smashed
1 teaspoon ground cumin
1 teaspoon ground turmeric
1 teaspoon ground cardamom
1 tablespoon fine sea salt

For the saffron rice:
525g basmati rice
Fine sea salt
1 teaspoon saffron threads
2 tablespoons hot water
3 egg yolks
230g Greek yoghurt, plus additional for serving
120ml vegetable oil, plus additional for greasing
2 tablespoons (30g) unsalted butter
3-4 tablespoons dried barberries (substitute with finely chopped dried sour cherries) 

1. First, cook the chicken. In a large saucepan with a lid, add the whole chicken pieces, plus the onion, garlic, spices, and sea salt. Cover with cold water. Transfer the saucepan to the stove and place over high heat. Once boiling, cover and turn the heat down to a simmer. Cook for approximately 40 minutes, or until the chicken is beginning to fall apart.

2. When the chicken is fully cooked, transfer the pieces to a cutting board and leave until cool enough to handle. Meanwhile, pour out all but half a cup of liquid from the saucepan (save the stock for another use in lieu of discarding). Remove the skin from the chicken and shred the meat, using your hands or a fork. Transfer the shredded meat back to the pot with the liquid, and stir to combine. Place over low heat and cook until the mixture is soft and stew-like but not watery, stirring occasionally to prevent it burning. Taste for seasoning and adjust if needed. Remove from the heat and set aside.

3. Meanwhile, prepare the rice. Add to a sieve and rinse under lukewarm, running water for 2-3 minutes, or until the starch has washed away and the water is clear. Fill a large, lidded saucepan with water and bring to the boil. Add generous amounts of salt: you want it to be as salty as the sea. Add the rice and cook for approximately 6 minutes, or until it is tender but not fully cooked, and still has a bit of bite in the middle. Drain the rice. Rinse with cold water, and drain again.

4. Crumble the saffron threads between your fingers and add to a ramekin or small bowl. Add the hot water and stir. Leave to infuse for 10 minutes. Meanwhile, preheat the oven to 205° C.

5. In a large bowl, add the egg yolks, Greek yoghurt, vegetable oil and the saffron mixture, and whisk until smooth and uniform. Taste the drained rice; if it could use some seasoning, add between ½-1 teaspoon of sea salt to the yoghurt mixture, and whisk through. Add the rice to the yoghurt mixture and, using a spatula, fold until evenly coated. Be gentle, as you want the rice grains to remain whole.

6. Grease a large bowl, baking tray, or cake dish - preferably Pyrex, as that lets you see the colour of the rice as it cooks - lightly with vegetable oil. Add half the rice and gently compact into a flat layer. Add the stewed chicken in a single layer, leaving a small margin around the edge, and then top with the remaining rice, patting flat into a compact layer.

7. Cover tightly with foil. Bake for between 1 hour-1 hour and 15 mins; your cooking time will vary depending on the shape of the bowl or tray you use. Begin to check after 1 hour; the tachin is ready when the rice around the edges and bottom is deep golden- brown.

8. Once the tachin is fully cooked, remove from the oven and leave to cool for five minutes. Meanwhile, make the barberry topping. Add the butter to a small frying pan and place over medium-high heat; once it melts, add the berries, and cook for 3-4 minutes. Remove from the heat.

9. To serve, remove the foil and place a large serving plate on the top of the tachin. Using oven mitts, carefully flip so the tachin is inverted onto the serving plate. Top with the barberries and butter. Slice and serve with a dollop of Greek yoghurt, if preferred.

Claire M. Bullen is a professional food and travel writer, a beerhound and an all-around lover of tasty things. Follow her on Twitter at @clairembullen, and pick up a can of Whiplash Clap Hands American Wheat in store or online.