When fresh peas are sweet, they are a seasonal delight that make this dish both beautiful to look at and delicious to eat. Even in spring, however, not all fresh peas are tender and sweet, so if the sample pea you taste at the market is starchy, it is fine to use frozen peas, as they are usually consistently sweet and tender. The celery is not essential, but it does contribute moisture and a certain leafy character to the dish. This chicken preparation is very much like an old Portuguese recipe called frango com ervilhas. In that recipe, sautéed onions are added, as well as a bit of dry port or Madeira. The dill or mint used here is clearly a Turkish touch. I think some sautéed green onions would enhance this dish, and I would add them when I add the celery and fresh peas. Serve the chicken with rice or noodles.
Rinse the chicken pieces and pat dry. Spread the flour on a plate and season with salt and pepper. Pour vegetable oil to a depth of
Add the green onions, if using, the celery, the fresh peas, and the dill or mint and continue to simmer, covered, until the chicken is tender, 15 to 20 minutes longer. If using thawed frozen peas, add them during the last 5 minutes. Taste and adjust the seasonings, adding the sugar if you think the peas warrant the additional sweetness.
Arrange the chicken pieces on a serving platter and spoon the sauce, peas, and celery over the top. Serve immediately.
© 2000 Joyce Goldstein. All rights reserved.