So, amongst all the new build craziness, I occasionally find time to cook new things. I tried this recipe a few months ago, fell in love with it, and then promptly forgot all about it…it’s been a busy few months! Anyway, I was in my fridge the other day and ran across my bottle of pomegranate molasses and remembered this super tasty meal. Made it again this past weekend with a few more modifications and it’s a definite keeper! I also tried to make a turkish puffy bread to accompany it…not such a keeper. *Sigh*…win some, lose some!
Anyway, this recipe does require a few out of the ordinary ingredients but if you can find them I’d highly recommend giving it a shot. I used Simply Recipes as a basis for my recipe but tweaked it with a few suggestions from the comments on her blog as well as a couple other sources.
Fesenjan Persian Chicken Stew
2 small vidalia onions, diced
2 tbs unsalted butter
3 tbs olive oil
2 large boneless, skinless chicken breasts, cut in half
4 chicken thighs, skinned
2 cups of raw walnuts halves
5 tbs pomegranate molasses (I found it in the sauce section of Balducci’s but it can also be found in some specialty stores. There are also recipes to make your own with a bottle of Pom juice and sugar if you can’t find it.)
1 pomegranate (the best pomegranates are the bright, shiny red ones that feel heavy for their size)
2-3 threads of saffron (this stuff is SUPER strong…you don’t need a lot)
2 cups chicken stock
1-2 tbs honey
½ tsp turmeric
¼ tsp cinnamon
salt and pepper
Preheat oven to 350. Once heated, place walnuts on baking sheet and toast until fragrant (about 5 minutes). Remove from heat and let cool. Once cool grind in food processor until very finely ground (almost paste-like).
In a dutch oven, heat 1 tbs of butter and 2 tbs of olive oil over medium-high heat. Sprinkle chicken pieces with salt. When it is hot and butter is completely melted, place the chicken pieces in dutch oven and cook until golden brown, turning meat to make sure it is brown all over.
Once chicken is browned remove from dutch oven and set aside. Add another tbs of butter and a tbs of oil to dutch oven. Add onions to dutch oven and cook until soft and translucent. Stir occasionally to prevent onions from browning.
Return the chicken pieces to the dutch oven with the onions. Pour 2 cups of chicken stock over the chicken and onions. Bring to a boil, reduce to a simmer, cover and simmer for 30 minutes.
Meanwhile, cut the pomegranate in half. Set one half aside to use seeds/arils for garnish. Take the other half and extract seeds. I like to take a large bowl and fill it ¾ of the way with water. Then I take the pomegranate half and using my hands, split it in half again (it’s fairly easy to break apart). Then I take the pomegranate quarter and submerge it in the water before using my fingers to pull seeds out. When it’s in water the rind and membrane float to the surface along with any bad seeds while the good seeds sink to the bottom. It’s easy then to skim the surface to get rid of the inedible materials and use a colander to drain the water and get the seeds. Once seeds are drained put them in the center of a damp square of cheesecloth that has been folded in half. Grab the corners of the square and pull up to form a little pouch. Twist the corners until they pull tight over the seeds and then juice the seeds over a large bowl. If you don’t dampen the cheesecloth before using the cheesecloth will just suck up all the juice. Half a pomegranate will provide a good amount of liquid.
Stir in the ground walnuts, fresh-squeezed pomegranate juice (you can use Pom juice but it’s kind of fun to juice a pomegranate plus there’s just no comparison between fresh squeezed pomegranate juice and Pom juice), pomegranate molasses, honey, and spices. Cover and cook on very low heat for 45 minutes to an hour, stirring every 15 minutes to prevent walnuts from stick to bottom of pan.
Remove from heat and add salt, pepper, or additional honey to taste. Chicken should be falling apart. At this point I usually like to take the meat out, shred it, and then return it to the dutch oven….makes it a little easier to serve!
Serve over the grain of your choice. We usually use couscous (regular or Israeli), farro, or a saffron basmati rice. Garnish with leftover pomegranate seeds.
And if you don’t need all the seeds from the remaining half, juice them and add the fresh-squeezed juice to club soda, seltzer water, ginger ale, or sprite and add a wedge of lime. Very refreshing and light drink to go with your meal!
Anyway, that’s my recipe post for the day…will get back to posting house stuff tomorrow after I meet with the cabinet maker!