Tavuk göğsü: the oddest dessert I’ve tried yet

I had no idea what I was buying when I saw this in the dessert counter of a nearby cafe. It was only after I took a bite that I realized something was odd about this sweet dessert.
I had no idea what I was buying when I saw this in the dessert (tatli) counter of a nearby cafe. It was only after I took a bite that I realized something was odd about this sweet dessert.

Tavuk göğsü looks just like a milk pudding. I picked it up at a cafe and took it home on a lark. I’d never had it, I didn’t know the name, therefore I would give it a try. I took a couple spoonfuls and noticed something was…..off.  There was an odd taste, not unpleasant, but…. different. It was the texture I had real issues with. At first I thought I’d gotten a hair in the pudding, but, no, that wasn’t it. Then it happened with another bite. OK, not a hair, but definitely a fiber of something.

Time to put down the spoon and check Google. Pretty soon, I found a photo of the white pudding with the signature flower stenciled on top. From there I got a name: Tavuk göğsü. My Turkish is minimal, but I recognized the first part. “Tavuk” means chicken. That’s not an ingredient I usually add to my sweets.  Wikipedia had the explanation:

“… a Turkish dessert (milk pudding) made with chicken meat. It became one of the most famous delicacies served to the Ottoman sultans in the Topkapı Palace. It is today considered a ‘signature’ dish of Turkey.

The traditional version uses white chicken breast meat, preferably freshly slaughtered capon. The meat is softened by boiling and separated into very fine fibers or rillettes. Modern recipes often pound the meat into a fine powder instead. The meat is mixed with milk, sugar, cracked rice and/or other thickeners, and often some sort of flavoring such as cinnamon. The result is a thick pudding often shaped for presentation.

The dish is more or less identical to the medieval “white dish”, blancmange that was common in the upper-class cuisine of Europe.”

So, it’s mike pudding with chicken. Sweet chicken. It’s never going to be a favorite. While I’m glad I’ve tried it, I don’t think I’ll be going back for more. If you are interested, here’s a recipe I found for it.

BTW, December is the fund drive for Wikipedia. Have you donated? I have.