The Search for the Perfect Pomegranate Chicken (and Seitan) Continues

Image Preview When I last left you, I had just placed approximately 4 1/2 pounds of chicken into a large zip-lock bag to marinade in some lovely pomegranate juice with a cinnamon stick….This marinating went on for 2 days (I kid you not).  Each day I would turn the bag to make sure that the chicken pieces were evenly absorbing the wonderful pomegranate flavor. I took a couple of sniffs to make sure that the chicken still smelled fresh, which I assure you it did, in fact the only thing I smelled was the pomegranate juice infused with fragrant cinnamon (the trick is to make sure that the chicken is super fresh when you buy it – check that the expiration date is a long way off, but more importantly check that it doesn’t have that funky old chicken smell …)

On Friday morning I took the bag out of the fridge and placed the contents of the bag – chicken, marinade, and all into a baking pan. I covered the birds and placed them into my (newly sort of repaired) oven preheated to 350 degrees. The chicken baked in the oven for approximately 1 hour undisturbed. When I pulled the chicken out of the oven the meat was moist and plump.

I originally thought that I would reduce the cooking liquid for the sauce, but the pomegranate juice in the pan was very murky and unappetizing at that point so I poured it off and disposed of it, and made a nice sauce with the following ingredients:

  • 2 onions, cut into small dice
  • 2 cups toasted pistachios ground into a fine powder + 1/2 cup whole pistachios for garnish
  • 2-3 tablespoons of tomato paste (it may have been 2 1/2 … not sure)
  • 4 cups pomegranate juice
  • 2 tablespoons honey
  • 1/4 – 1/2 cup roughly chopped mint

I sautéed the onions in olive oil until they were slightly caramelizedI then added the toasted ground pistachios and let them cook with the onions until they became fragrantI added the tomato paste and stirred to incorporate.

I then poured in the pomegranate juice and honey – and let it simmer a bit to thicken. (If the sauce is thin adding some additional tomato paste or more ground pistachios is a good option for thickening. If the sauce gets to thick you can add some water or stock)

I took this sauce mixture and poured a portion of it (about 3/4 – I think) over the chicken (I reserved the rest for the vegetarian seitan version).

I put the chicken back into the oven uncovered to brown a bit. You may want to put the chicken under the broiler to give it some additional color, just watch it carefully so it doesn’t burn.

When I removed the dish from the over about 10 minutes later the chicken was nicely browned and the sauce was thick. I put the chicken on a platter and garnished it with whole pistachios and mint (for Rosh Hashanah I will add pomegranate seeds as well).

The outcome: a really moist, tender flavorful chicken – sweet and tangy. The mint was a nice addition. It brightened up the dish both in terms of color and flavor. My Shabbat guests said it reminded them of a slow cooked Moroccan tajin.I served it with golden herbed basmati rice (with onions, turmeric, parsley, and dill).

I also made a parallel vegetarian Pomegranate seitan dish:For the seitan – I took two packages of seitan (my preferred brand is Bridge). I cut the seitan into thin slices and patted them dry.

I coated each pieces with a flour corn meal spice mixture (I made a big batch a few months ago and keep it in my freezer so I don’t remember what I put in it – but any combination of dry herbs and spices you like, and a pinch of salt and pepper should work.

I pan fried the seitan pieces in a bit of oil flipping them so they were golden and a bit crispy on both sides. I then placed the seitan on a platter and right before serving

I poured the pomegranate sauce over the seitan and garnished with pistachios and mint (I waited until the last minute to pour the sauce on to keep the seitan from getting soggy). Some things I learned:

  1. I used a whole chicken and some chicken pieces; I think my preference is using the chicken pieces.
  2. I still have some experimenting to do, I may try next time to prepare the chicken dish on the stovetop or to remove the chicken from the marinade and roast it without the liquid.
  3. Planning ahead makes all the difference. I think the long slow marinade was the key. It didn’t take much work at all, just some forethought, and it was well worth it.
  4. I will try to marinade the seitan for 1-2 days and see if that makes a difference in terms of flavor.

Shanah Tovah!  

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7 Responses to “The Search for the Perfect Pomegranate Chicken (and Seitan) Continues”

  1. carol koenig Says:

    Hi Linda,
    While I have not tried this recipe, it was submitted to our recently published temple cookbook and I know the woman who sent it in is a very good cook. I plan to try it for this holiday.
    Pometranate Chicken
    10 pcs. chicken 8 oz. pomegranate juice
    2-4 T. olive oil 1-2 T. sugar
    2-4 cloves garlic, minced 1 1/2 T. conrstarch mixed
    2 med. onions, chopped in 1/4 C. cold water
    1 tsp. each, salt and cinnamon 1 C. pomegranate seeds
    1/2 tsp. pepper

    Saute chicken in oil till browned. Remove from pan. Saute onions and garlic till fragrant. Put chicken back in pan. Sprinkle w/salt,pepper,cinnamon. (can add a little ground cardamom or cloves if you wish) Add pomegranate juice and sugar and simmer, covered, till chicken is cooked. Remove chicken to platter. Add dissolved cornstarch to juices in pan and stir till slightly thickened. Pour sauce over chicken and sprinkle with seeds. Can make ahead and reheat.

    Sounds good to me! Carol Koenig

  2. ben Says:

    Looks like a great recipe – you should pair it with Pomegranate wine (Rimon)!!!

  3. Laura Frankel Says:

    The secret is to use a great tasting pomegranate paste/molasses. Just juice by itself is not a marinade. You need oil and an acid to help infuse the bird with the flavors from the pomegranate. Soy sauce is not a marinade by itself, but add some citrus juice, sesame oil and canola oil and now you have a marinade. The natural sugars in the pomegranate paste will concentrate when reduced into the paste and coat/glaze the bird. Shana Tova
    Laura Frankel
    Author of JEWISH COOKING FOR ALL SEASONS (John Wiley and Sons)

  4. Susan Olson Says:

    Here is the best wine to serve with pomegranate recipes:

    visit: http://www.rimonwines.com

    RIMON WINERY INTRODUCES A NEW KOSHER POMEGRANATE DESSERT WINE – PERFECT FOR ROSH HASHANAH
    New Israeli pomegranate wine helps usher in a sweet new year

    Moshav Kerem Ben Zimra, Israel – Rimon Winery, a new Israeli winery and producer of the world’s finest pure pomegranate, certified kosher wines, has released a new limited production dessert wine in the US market – perfect for Jewish holiday celebrations. The winery also makes a certified kosher pomegranate dry wine and port-style wine, which it plans to release in the US by the end of 2007.

    “Rimon Winery has perfected the art of making pomegranate wine,” said Yoav Gilat, Managing Partner of Cannonball Wine & Spirits, exclusive US representative for Rimon Winery. “Its gold medal-winning wines have been very well received around the world. We are very pleased to finally be able to share them with American wine enthusiasts – especially with Rosh Hashanah coming up.”

    Rimon Winery’s new dessert wine was the first certified Kosher, pure pomegranate wine produced by the winery and is now the first to be introduced to US wine drinkers. “Rimon’s pomegranate dessert wine is the ideal wine to help usher in a sweet new year,” said Gilat. “On Rosh Hashanah, pomegranates are eaten as a symbolic gesture in the hopes that our merits will increase like the seeds of a pomegranate.”

    Unlike other pomegranate alcoholic beverage products on the market, Rimon wines are not flavored alcohol. They are actual wines made by virtually the same processes as grape-based wines. The pomegranates are harvested at optimum ripeness and crushed for their juice, which is then fermented at low temperatures in stainless steel tanks to preserve the fruit’s natural and healthful qualities. After fermentation, the wines are aged in French oak barrels.

    What sets Rimon Winery apart from its competitors is the unique flavors of its wines derived from a new variety of pomegranate developed by father and son Gaby and Avi Nachmias, owners of Rimon Winery. The Nachmias family, a third generation farming family in Israel’s Upper Galilee, has cultivated a “super fruit” that is sweeter, deeper in color, and richer in vitamins and antioxidants than other pomegranate varieties. They are the only pomegranates in the world that have enough natural sugars to produce wine on their own – without any additives.

    “These are extremely high quality wines with exceptional clarity, rich color, and exotic aromas and flavors,” said Gilat. “Made from pure pomegranates, they also represent a high level of blessing and are a symbol of abundance and fertility. All of these qualities make Rimon’s new pomegranate dessert wine ideal for Rosh Hashanah and for other Jewish holidays.”

    For more information and to order Rimon wines, visit http://www.rimonwines.com. Rimon Winery is located in the Upper Galilee region of Israel. It sits on a basalt plateau nearly 3,000 feet above sea level, nestled in the heart of a thriving pomegranate orchard. The winery’s owners and winemakers are father and son Gaby and Avi Nachmias, who specialize in cultivating premium pomegranate fruit and producing pure pomegranate wine of the highest quality. All Rimon Winery wines are made using traditional winemaking techniques to produce world-class kosher wines made from 100 percent pure pomegranate that retain the succulent flavors and healthful properties of the pomegranate fruit even after it has been fermented into wine. All Rimon Winery wines are produced at Rimon Winery’s state-of-the-art winemaking facility, which includes special pomegranate separation and pressing equipment, stainless steel fermentation tanks, and a barrel room where the wines are aged in classic French oak barrels. Rimon Winery wines include: Rimon Winery Dessert Wine 500ml (SRP $38), dry wine 750ml (SRP $42), and a port-style wine 750ml (SRP $44).
    ###

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