"Perhaps the most impressive of all the cookbook blogs are the three devoted to the 2004 edition of Gourmet magazine's "The Gourmet Cookbook" -- all 5¼ pounds and 1,300-odd recipes of it. Befitting this culinary Everest, all three writers are overachievers in their professional lives."

--Lee Gomes, The Wall Street Journal, May 28, 2008
"I should have told you before how much I've been enjoying reading your thoughts. You seem like such a great cook."

--Ruth Reichl, Editor-in-Chief of Gourmet Magazine, June 8 2008, comment on "Chocolate Velvet Ice Cream".

Tuesday, October 28, 2008

Persian-Style Chicken with Walnut, Onion and Pomegranate Sauce

Readers, a few posts ago (could have been the b'stilla post) I said that I was close to the end of the Poultry chapter. Ha ha. What I meant was I was close to the end of the chicken recipes. There are scads more that involve ducks, turkeys, game hens, pheasants and (?) rabbits. I don't know why rabbit is in the poultry chapter, but there it is.

Anyway, Persian-Style Chicken with Walnut, Onion and Pomegranate Sauce is one of those recipes that involves a seasonal ingredient, so I had to bide my time. Pomegranates are in the markets now, we had family visiting at work, so voila!! Perfect alignment for the recipe.

Cooks who are comfortable making a pan sauce for roasted or pan-fried chicken will find this to be just one or two steps beyond that in the addition of ground toasted walnuts, pomegranate juice, and pomegranate seeds. Using nuts as a thickener (especially toasted nuts) is a luscious way to bulk up a sauce, and I loved the taste and texture of the walnuts.

Working with the pomegranate was the most cumbersome aspect of this recipe, and I imagine it will be for you too. After years of fiddling around with these things I've found the best way to get the seeds out is to do it underwater in a bowl--the membrane floats to the top and the seeds fall to the bottom. Easy to separate after that!

The next conundrum was how to get 2/3 of a cup of pomegranate juice. I could use a fine mesh sieve, but had the brainstorm of using a ricer instead.

This was a brilliant idea, until I realized that only half of the little seeds were getting juiced--then they got pushed down into the unjuiced seeds to form an unjuicable mass in the ricer. So I spent the next ten minutes or so mooshing the intact seeds with my fingers until all the juice was out, which amazingly gave me exactly 2/3 of a cup of pomegranate juice. This juice, along with 1/3 cup of intact seeds, goes into the sauce along with the ground walnuts, onions, cinnamon, tomato sauce, chicken stock, lemon juice, and molasses.

I know, it sounds like a toddler got loose in the pantry, but really all together it's good in a pleasingly exotic way.

The one thing I wasn't totally crazy about was the seeds in the sauce. That little kernel in the middle made chewing interesting--you just kind of have to go with it, like when you're eating grapes with seeds and decide to swallow them instead of spitting them out.

Here's a photo I lifted from Kevin's site (thanks, Kevin!!):

My plate did not look anywhere near this pretty (though it wasn't bad) and I didn't think to save some seeds for garnish. My diners enjoyed this dish enough to ask for it the following night as leftovers, and I liked it too. If you don't mind fooling around with exotic ingredients and flavors and are looking for something unusual to do with chicken, I'd say give this one a try.

1 comment:

Liz C said...

'sounds like a toddler got loose in the pantry' -- loved that! That's exactly what some recipes sound like to me.