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  • Recipe Redux: Persian Pomegranate, Walnut & Chicken Stew (Fesenjan)

    Tuesday, January 22, 2013

    pomegranate walnut chicken stew, Fesenjan
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    Move over bacon, there’s a new girl in town and she is ready to steal center stage. Sure, she may not be a suitable companion for maple donuts or able to wrap herself around a date, but she won’t be needing your publicist because 2013 is her year.

    Hello humble but delicious, versatile, and healthy…..chicken. When the Recipe Redux challenged recipe contributors to submit recipes based on 2013 food trends, I was intrigued. With the added challenge of making the recipe a one-pot meal, I was a bit intimidated. I am not a big one-pot-meal kind of cook. I set about doing a little online research to see just what kinds of food trends we might be seeing this year and there was a lot of inspiration.

    Plenty of the resources I tapped predicted that chicken would enjoy a resurgence, both in restaurants and at home. Of course, we aren’t talking about ordinary, factory-farm raised chickens that crowd coops and store shelves. Many are predicting that chicken will take center stage because it is increasingly becoming easier and more affordable to find well-raised, organic, free-range chickens–which definitely tastes better and lends itself well to the ongoing trend toward local sourcing. In no time, I had my main ingredient.

    Another  tempting trend appeared on several lists. One that was interesting and challenging. Not an ingredient trend, but a taste trend. What is it? Sour! And I don’t mean the kind of sour you experience in sweet & sour chicken or the beloved Sour Patch Kid candy. I mean the kind of sour that almost brings your lips to a pucker. Almost. I immediately thought of a chicken dish I enjoyed in a Persian restaurant in NYC a couple of years ago and thought it the perfect candidate for this recipe challenge.

    Fesenjan, persian pomegranate chicken walnut stew, gluten free chicken stew

    The dish, known as Fesenjan, is often served for special occasions around Persian tables. It is a stew that cooks for a long time over low heat. The chicken literally falls off the bone. The dish has a few very simple ingredients (walnuts, chicken, broth, onions, and a few easy to find spices) and gets its distinct sour-savory flavor from pomegranate molasses. You should be able to find this condiment in health food stores and maybe some larger grocers in cities. There isn’t an easy substitute that I know of, so if you can’t find it locally, order it online. I often think of this dish as a Middle Eastern take on barbecue.

    I used a slow cooker for this recipe, which I highly recommend. You could us a Dutch oven on the stove top. Expect the cooking time to be about 2 hours using the stove top method. As it cooks, it will become a beautiful deep rich color—and your kitchen will smell amazing! One more tip-it’s even better as leftovers.

    I hope you’ll give it a try…and let me know what you think!

    ©2013 Kindred Kitchen / Nancy Granada

    Fesenjan. persian pomegranate walnut chicken stew, gluten free chicken stew

    Recipe Redux: Persian Pomegranate, Walnut & Chicken Stew (Fesenjan)

    servings: 4 | time: about 5 hours

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    2 TBSP. olive oil
    2 pounds whole chicken pieces (I prefer a mix of breast, thigh and leg; skinless and bone-in. Boneless is also great and makes the shredding of the chicken easier)
    1 large yellow onion, sliced in half and cut into thin half-moon strips
    2 large cloves garlic, chopped
    1/2 tsp. each cinnamon, cardamom, tumeric
    1 tsp. salt
    1/4 tsp. fresh ground pepper
    3/4 cup pomegranate molasses
    2 TBSP. dark brown sugar
    3 1/2 cups low-sodium chicken stock6 strands saffron, soaked in 2 TBSP. water
    1 1/2 cups walnuts, ground coarsely in a food processor
    Brown basmati rice and roasted vegetables for serving


    A couple of notes before you begin. If you are using a slow cooker that has a stove-top function, you can do all of these steps in there. If your slow cooker does not have this function, you’ll need heat your slow cooker on high as you complete the first 4 steps in a separate pan on the stove top (which, I suppose, technically makes this a 2-pot dish :)). Once you’ve completed the first 4 steps, transfer everything over to your heated slow cooker and continue the recipe from there.

    1. Heat the the olive oil in a large Dutch oven or slow cooker (set on stove top function) over medium high heat

    2. Season the chicken pieces with a couple of big pinches of salt and a pinch of freshly ground black pepper and saute until browned on all sides (about 10 minutes). Remove from pan and set aside

    3. Add the onion and garlic to the pan and saute until the onions become soft and translucent, about 8 minutes. Add the spices, salt, and pepper and cook for 3 minutes

    4. Add the pomegranate molasses and dark brown sugar and cook for 2 minutes (transfer to slow cooker if you are using one)

    5. Add the chicken stock, saffron threads with water, ground walnuts and chicken

    6. Set the slow cooker to high until it comes to a rolling simmer. Reduce the heat to low, cover and cook for 5 hours, turning the chicken a couple of times during cooking time (you could leave the slow cooker on high and cook for 3.5 hours)

    7. At the end of the cooking time, remove the chicken from the pot and place in a bowl. Turn the slow cooker to stove top-high temp or transfer the sauce to a heavy-bottomed sauce pan and bring to a rolling simmer over medium-high heat. Allow the sauce to cook (uncovered) at a strong simmer until thickened and reduced by nearly half (about 30 minutes) (I usually put the rice on just before I remove the chicken from the sauce)

    8. While the sauce is reducing, remove the chicken from the bones and shred with a fork (the meat will literally just fall off). Be careful to remove all bones

    9. Once the sauce has reduced,  place the chicken back in the sauce and allow to warm through (about 5 minutes). Serve with brown basmati rice and your favorite veggies on the side


    8 responses to “Recipe Redux: Persian Pomegranate, Walnut & Chicken Stew (Fesenjan)”

    1. Dixya says:

      looks so savory. I have never tried pomegranate molases- will have to try it with this recipe soon!

    2. Nancy Granada says:

      @Dixya-There is one other recipe I use pomegranate molasses in (called muhammara (a hummus-like dip made with roasted red peppers, walnuts, cumin, and the pom molasses), so I am on a quest to find new ways to incorporate it in other recipes. The molasses has a very similar sweet/sour characteristic to balsamic vinegar. Let me know what you think!

    3. Nancy Granada says:

      to the person who left a comment mentioning that she loved the intro to this post and would be trying the recipe to use pomegranate molasses for the first time…thanks for reading! (I accidently deleted your comment instead of publishing it…tricky Blogger buttons :/)

    4. I’ve been reading so much about pomegranate molasses, I have GOT to get my hands on some and make this recipe. It really sounds amazing!

      • Nadine says:

        I guess it’s about time I try a the black bean burger. I’ve been seneig them all over the place in the blog world! Yours look great. Awesome job on the challenge!I am a chobani girl, too

    5. I’ve been dying to try pomegranate molasses. It hasn’t been easy to find in my area, but good thought about ordering online.

    6. Nancy Granada says:

      Would love to know the other ways you find to use it! I predict that pomegranate molasses will be the next big “it” ingredient…you’ll see it in cocktails, dessert toppings, savory dishes…you heard it here first 🙂

    7. David says:

      A pretty good substitute for pomegranate molasses is jellied cranberry sauce or frozen cranberry juice. If you use the jelly you probably won’t need to add the sugar.

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