Tag Archives: pomegranate

Braised Pomegranate Chicken with Israeli Couscous

Apologies to all who tried to access my blog over the last few days and were unable to connect. I’ve had some technological issues, something about exceeding the allowable CPU’s and plugins not properly updated. Sadly, my skill-set does not extend to understanding the issues much less fixing them. I turned my problem over to the talented Hillary Little, and put my talents to work on problems I can solve.

I spent the better part of the week perfecting pomegranate braised chicken. I already have one pomegranate chicken recipe on the blog, and while it’s very delicious, it’s been in my weekly dinner rotation for over 7 years now and I’m bored with it. The chicken is braised in a tomato based sauce, enhanced with some pomegranate molasses. I really wanted a more vibrant, pronounced pomegranate flavour.

In my quest to perfect pomegranate chicken, I made it several times this week. In round one, I loaded up on pomegranate molasses in the braising liquid. The finished sauce was way too bitter. Strike one. I also had the brilliant idea of making it a one pan dish and added the uncooked Israeli couscous to the pan, with the browned chicken and braising liquid.  By the time the chicken was done, the couscous was too mushy. Strike two.

In round three, I used less pomegranate molasses and added some white wine and chicken stock to round out the braising liquid. It was better than round one, but the pomegranate flavour was really muted. Strike three.

A quick web search revealed an epicurious.com recipe that cleverly used pomegranate juice as the braising liquid. Wish I’d thought of that! As the chicken braisedin the oven, the juice reduced down to a thick, rich, sweet-tart sauce. Exactly what I was trying to achieve.

I started with bone-in, skin-on chicken thighs. I really wanted the extra flavour that braising on the bone would bring. Season the chicken liberally with salt and paprika and put it in the skillet on high heat, skin side down. Leave it alone for a good 5-8 minutes to give it a chance to really get brown. There’s flavour in the brown. 
Remove the chicken and pour off some of that rendered fat. Saute the onions until light brown. Cumin and cinnamon add great depth of flavour and ground pistachios add body and texture to the sauce.
 I used a combination of pomegranate juiceand chicken stock for the braising liquid. Vegetable stock or water would also be fine. 
Israeli couscous is the perfect starch to sop up all that braising liquid. I added tons of fresh mint and Italian parsley to give it a lively herbal note. Toasted chopped pistachios and pomegranate seeds added crunch. A squirt of lemon juice and big glug of extra virgin olive oil brought it all together.

Click here to print recipe for Braised Pomegranate-Pistachio Chicken Thighs.

Click here to print recipe for Israeli Couscous with Pomegranate and Pistachio.

 

 

 

 

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Pomegranate Chicken

 

Now here’s something you don’t hear everyday.  My children are blessed with 23 first cousins!  My husband and I each have 5 siblings.  He has 4 brothers and a sister and I have 4 sisters and a brother.  (Didn’t they made a movie about that??)  Every year, over the Christmas holidays, we take a vacation with his side of the family.  Over the years the numbers have ebbed and flowed.  This year we numbered 24.  We spent 11 glorious days on the island of Anguilla.  Going on holiday is joyful.  Coming home, not quite as wonderful.  I managed to avoid cooking for the first 2 days we were back but by the third day, the family was demanding to be fed.  And sadly, room service was no longer an option.  My go-to dish, when I can’t think of what else to make, is Pomegranate Chicken.

You may be wondering what is going on here?  Why is she not feeding her family cookies or bread you may be asking yourself.  Regular readers of this blog know that they can count on Salt and Serenity for all things baked.  However, for the next little while, we may have to lay off the baking.  If you followed me through my 8 days of holiday baking and then the Almond Berry Shortbread Torte , followed by 11 days of tropical cocktails, you may have guessed that we have put on a few pounds here.  Or perhaps as my delusional  husband said, “I think the scale is broken!”  So with a little resolve and willpower, we hope to take off those excess pounds this month. Hence, today’s post for Pomegranate Chicken.  Besides, I had to use up that wrinkled pomegranate that somehow missed the pre-holiday fridge cleaning.

Begin with grating some garlic and dicing a few onions.  I usually use a jalapeno pepper in this recipe, but only had a Serrano pepper, so I used half of that.  You may notice in the photos below that my fingers look like they have developed some scaly disease.  Fear not, I am just wearing gloves for seeding and dicing the peppers.  I once worked for a chef who told me that he went to the bathroom after chopping jalapeno and suffered mightily afterwards for many hours.  I am an eye rubber and have been burned on more than one occasion so I always wear latex gloves when handling peppers.

When I was dicing the onions, my daughter asked me to make  a video, showing the proper way to do it.  She said that she tried to describe how to do it over the phone to her girlfriend, but couldn’t properly explain it, so Christina, this video is for you!

I like to use boneless skinless chicken thighs for this recipe.  I find they have way more flavour than breasts and overcooking them is very difficult to do.  The chicken gets seasoned with salt, pepper and paprika.  Then it is browned on both sides and removed from the pan.  With the remaining fat in the pan, saute the onions, garlic and jalapeno.

A can of plum tomatoes and some pomegranate concentrate are added next.  This is different from pomegranate juice.  It is essentially a boiled down concentrated pomegranate syrup.  It is usually available at Middle Eastern stores.  Then the chicken gets added back in and the whole thing simmers, covered for about 40 minutes.

I was very excited to try Nigella Lawson’s method for removing seeds from a pomegranate.  I am happy to report, that while I do not look as gorgeous as her while removing my seeds, her method works quite well and is an excellent stress reliever!

Garnish with fresh pomegranate seeds.

To print the recipe, click here.

P.S.  I was at the bookstore today and bought this.  I know I should be feeling guilty, but I managed to convince myself that it is for research purposes and bedtime reading only.  (And I call my husband delusional.)

Cocktails at the Cottage

I think I have a special fondness for these recipes because the last time I  had them was at my friend Sandy’s cottage.  Sandy and her husband are the ultimate hosts.  After almost 3 weeks of rainy July weather, upon our arrival, they arranged for the sun to come out and there it stayed for the entire 3 days of our visit. Each day, at precisely 5:15 p.m., drinks and hors d’oeuvres were served on the dock.  There we were, lounging by the lake in our comfy Muskoka chairs and Sandy appeared with a bowl of this tapenade and flatbread crackers.  I think my love of this tapenade may also have something to do with the fact that she served it with these ice cold pomegranate martinis. 

Any left over tapenade keeps well in the fridge for weeks.  It is also wonderful in sandwiches and tossed with hot pasta.

Sandy’s Green Olive Tapenade

2 cups green olives with pimentos, drained of brine
1/3 cup Italian parsley leaves
1 large clove garlic
¼ cup extra-virgin olive oil
2 tablespoons lemon juice
¼ teaspoon freshly ground black pepper

 1.  Place green olives and parsley in the bowl of a food processor fitted with the metal blade.  Turn machine on and drop garlic clove through the top while blade is spinning.  Pulse mixture about 10 times until olives are coarsely chopped.

 2.  Add olive oil, lemon juice and black pepper and pulse 2-3 more times.  You want a chunky mixture.  Do not process until smooth.

 3.  Transfer mixture to small serving bowl and serve with crackers or slices of toasted baguette.

Frozen Pomegranate Martinis

This recipe is adapted from a July 2000 recipe in Gourmet Magazine.  In the original recipe they used frozen chunks of watermelon instead of the pomegranate ice cubes.

You can actually feel virtuous drinking this cocktail.  The antioxidants in pomegranate juice have been shown to be beneficial to heart health by breaking down fatty deposits on the artery walls.  This drink requires some advance planning as you need to make POM ice cubes from the juice.  Once frozen, they will keep in a zip-loc bag in your freezer for several months.  It’s always good to have a bag of POM cubes on hand.  You never know who will show up.  Serves 4

2 small bottles POM wonderful pomegranate juice (each bottle is 473 ml)
zest from 1 lime
¼ cup granulated sugar
¼ cup lime juice
½ cup Vodka  (regular, raspberry, lemon, mandarine) use whatever you have

1.  Pour 2 bottles of pomegranate juice into ice cube trays and freeze for several hours, until solid.  If not using right away, frozen juice cubes can be kept in a zip-loc bag.

2.  Zest Lime and add to sugar.  Juice limes.

3.  In a blender, combine half the juice ice cubes, lime zest, sugar, and vodka.   Blend until almost smooth and add remaining juice cubes, a few at a time, blending until totally smooth.

3.  Pour into martini or wine glasses and serve with a straw.  Beware of a brain freeze if you slurp too fast.