How to turn cooked chicken and old bread into a brilliant Turkish meze – recipe

Today’s Turkish dish is a great way to transform leftover cooked chicken and day-old bread into an incredibly moreish meze. It’s easy, too, because it essentially involves just shredding chicken leg or breast meat (or pick a whole roast carcass) and mixing it with stale bread soaked in chicken stock or milk, crushed walnuts, garlic and spicy paprika. Serve at room temperature, or chill and dress later. It will keep in the fridge for up to five days from when the chicken was cooked and is delicious cold, spread on toast or as part of a larger meze with flatbread, muhammara, hummus and grilled vegetables. Some versions of this recipe suggest blending everything in a food processor, but to my mind that gives it too paste-like a texture; you’ll get a much better texture and flavour if you shred the chicken by hand and crush the walnuts in a mortar, before adding the other ingredients and kneading it all together by hand.

Circassian chicken
This moreish meze recipe upcycles leftover chicken into a spicy, rillette-style spread. It’s super-quick to make, turning leftovers into a centrepiece for a great sharing meal or into a delicious sandwich filler. It’s lovely chilled or at room temperature. Here, I served it on crostini made by gently frying stale ciabatta in extra-virgin olive oil.

Prep 20 min
Serves 2-4 as part of a meze

1 large slice stale bread, about 100g
100ml chicken stock, or milk
2 tbsp walnut oil, or extra-virgin olive oil
100g walnut halves, 50g crushed in a mortar, the rest left whole
1 clove garlic, peeled and minced
2 tsp sweet paprika
180g leftover cooked chicken meat, shredded
Sea salt and black pepper
Chopped parsley, to serve (optional)
Bread, to serve (optional)

Put the bread in abowl, cover with the stock or milk, and leave to soften.

Tear the softened bread into pieces and add a tablespoon of walnut oil, the crushed walnuts, garlic, a teaspoon of paprika and the chicken. Season, then mix thoroughly by hand to combine.

Arrange the chicken mix on a platter. Heat the second tablespoon of oil in a pan, stir in the remaining teaspoon of paprika and drizzle over the chicken mix. Top with the walnut halves and an optional sprinkling of parsley, and serve with bread.