This chicken dish uses both pomegranate juice and fresh pomegranate seeds.
This time of the year, supermarket produce departments are overflowing with pomegranates, leathery-skinned globes filled with ruby-colored kernels that are a gorgeous addition to your holiday repertoire.
Selection is simple because pomegranates are harvested only when ripe. Choose a fruit that’s heavy for its size and looks fresh, as if bursting through its skin. Color doesn’t matter, but avoid any with shriveled skin or soft spots. These ancient fruits conceal their kernels (called arils) in a web of honeycomb-like membranes. A friend with more pomegranate experience showed me the proper way to prepare one:
She cut off the crown end and scored the skin in quarters from stem to crown. She then immersed the fruit in a large bowl of cold water and broke the sections apart, separating seed clusters from membranes and skin. After a few minutes’ work, the pomegranate seeds lay neatly at the bottom of the bowl, and the skin and membrane floated on top.
Whether used as a garnish, as in today’s chicken dish, pomegranates are a delightful addition to your seasonal table.
Pomegranate juice is available at most grocery stores.
Braised Pomegranate Chicken with Walnuts
Makes 4 servings
1 teaspoon kosher salt, plus more if needed
1/2 teaspoon freshly ground pepper, plus more if needed
1 whole chicken (about 3 1/2 pounds), cut into 8 pieces, or 4 chicken quarters
2 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil
1 medium onion, sliced
2 garlic cloves, minced
1/2 teaspoon ground cardamom or cinnamon
2 tablespoons all-purpose flour
2 cups pure pomegranate juice (unsweetened)
1 tablespoon granulated sugar (optional)
1 tablespoon finely grated lemon zest
1 tablespoon freshly squeezed lemon juice, plus more if needed
1/2 cup unsalted walnuts or pistachios, lightly toasted and coarsely chopped
Pomegranate seeds for garnish
1. Sprinkle the salt and pepper evenly over the chicken pieces. In a large saute pan, heat the oil over medium-high heat. Working in batches, brown the chicken well on both sides. Remove it from the pan and set aside.
2. Discard all but 2 tablespoons of the liquid remaining in the pan. Reduce the heat to medium, add the onion and saute, stirring occasionally, until golden brown, 7 to 8 minutes. Add the garlic, cardamom, and flour; cook, stirring continuously, 1 minute. Stir in the pomegranate juice, sugar, zest and lemon juice. Cook 2 minutes, scraping any brown bits from the bottom of the pan.
3. Return the chicken and any juices to the pan, spooning some of the sauce on top. Bring the liquid just to a boil, reduce the heat, cover the pan and simmer until the chicken is tender and cooked through. (Chicken needs to reach a minimum internal temperature of 165 degrees in the thickest part of the breast and the thigh as registered on a instant-read thermometer.)
4. Transfer chicken to a serving platter, and pour the sauce over it. Sprinkle with the nuts and pomegranate seeds, and serve immediately.
Adapted from “Edible: A Celebration of Local Foods” by Tracey Ryder and Carole Topalian (Wiley, $29.95).