The Joy of Cooking Milhouse

“The Twisted World of Marge Simpson,” season 8, episode 11

When you think back to this season 8 classic episode, the food that pops to mind is pretzels. Tons and tons of pretzels being lobbed at Whitey Ford and pushed around town by the mafia. Marge and her cute little pretzel wagon, striving against the odds.

With The Simpsons being the food-centric show that it is, there is somehow room for more food in this culinarily-themed episode. After Marge makes a break with the Investorettes, she runs into her former friends at the franchise fair. And while Marge ends up with a pretzel wagon, the ladies purchase a Fleet-a-Pita “specialty foods” franchise.

On the menu:
Pocket bread (pita)
Flavor sauce (tahini)
Crunch patties (falafel)
Ben Franklin (reshmi kebab and tabbouleh)

I’ve covered this episode before, so we’ll stick to the recipe at hand: The Ben Franklin. Or, if you’re an enlightened person, reshmi kebab. Cubes of chicken breast are marinated in a super flavorful mixture before being grilled and stuffed into a warm pita with tabbouleh, lettuce, tomato, and tahini (flavor sauce). It’s buy-a-franchise worthy.

Ben Frankin (Reshmi Kebab)
Serves 4

For the Kebabs:
1/3 cup plain yogurt
1/4 cup blanced almonds
1/4 cup fresh cilantro
1/2 yellow onion, peeled and roughly chopped
2 garlic cloves, peeled
1 (1-inch) knob fresh ginger, peeled
1 small serrano pepper, seeded (optional)
1/2 lemon, juiced
1 teaspoon oil
Salt and pepper, to taste
1 to 1 1/2 pounds boneless, skinless chicken breasts, cut into 1-inch cubes
Metal or wooden skewers

For the Pitas:
1/3 cup tahini
1/2 lemon, juiced
1 garlic clove or 1/4 teaspoon garlic powder (optional)
Salt, to taste
1 to 2 cups tabbouleh (store-bought or homemade)
8 lettuce leaves
8 slices tomato

  1. Combine the yogurt, almonds, cilantro, onion, garlic, ginger, pepper (if using), lemon juice, and oil in a blender or small food processor. Season to taste. Blend until very smooth.
  2. Combine the chicken with the marinade in a bowl and toss to coat. Cover and marinate at least 4 hours or up to 24 hours.
  3. About an hour before grilling the chicken, soak the wooden skewers in water (if using).
  4. Meanwhile, make the sauce. Combine the tahini in a small bowl with the lemon juice and garlic, if using. Add salt to taste. Stir well, the mixture will become thick. Add warm water, a little at a time, and stir until the mixture becomes a nice drizzling consistency. Set aside.
  5. Preheat a grill or grill pan to medium-high heat and grease the grates well. Grill the chicken for a few minutes on each side, just until cooked through.
  6. Assemble the pita sandwiches by coating the inside of each pita with the sauce. Add layers of tabbouleh, grilled chicken, lettuce, and tomato. Drizzle more sauce over top. Serve.

Notes:

  • Plain yogurt or kefir work best for this recipe. If you’re using Greek yogurt, you may need to add some cream or milk to the marinade mixture.
  • If your blender is a bit of a wimp, soak the almonds in boiling hot water for 5 to 10 minutes first.
  • Leave out the pepper for a mild marinade. Leave the seeds in for a fiery dish.
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