Sunday, November 20, 2005

I made this for the company Thanksgiving potluck, substituting Quorn tenders for the chicken and toasted cashews for the walnuts. I did add the eggplant and cinnamon, and also some cumin.

(Persian chicken in pomegranate-walnut sauce)
Yield: 4-6 servings

Butter or oil 1/4 cup
Chicken cut into serving pieces 2 1/2 to 3 lbs
Onions sliced thinly 2 each
Walnuts finely ground in a food processor 2 cups
Stock or water 1 1/2 to 2 cups
Pomegranate syrup (see notes) 2/3 cup
Sugar 1 - 3 T
Salt & pepper to taste

Basic Steps: Sauté ? Simmer
Heat the butter or oil over medium heat in a large, heavy-bottomed pot. Add the chicken pieces a few at a time and brown on all sides. Remove to a plate.
Add the onions and sauté in remaining butter or oil till translucent.
Stir in the ground walnuts, stock or water and browned chicken pieces. Bring to a boil, lower heat, cover and simmer 20-30 minutes.
Stir in the pomegranate juice, sugar, salt and pepper. Taste and adjust seasoning. Sauce should have a balanced sweet-sour flavor. Simmer another 15-20 minutes till chicken is tender, sauce is somewhat thickened and the walnuts begin to give off their oil. Serve with plain white rice.
Use duck instead of chicken. Trim of all excess fat, and spoon off excess fat as dish cooks.
Pomegranate syrup, sometimes called pomegranate molasses, is available in most Middle Eastern and health food stores. If it is unavailable, you can use an equal amount of frozen, concentrated cranberry juice. The flavor is roughly the same. If using fresh pomegranate juice, use 1 1/2 to 2 cups and cut back on the stock or water.
Add 1/2 tsp ground cardamom or 1/2 tsp cinnamon when sautéing the onions for a richer flavor.
Add a little more sugar if the sauce is too tart, a little bit of lime or lemon juice if it is too sweet.
The chicken can be marinated in a few squeezes of lime juice for a few hours if you like.
A peeled and cubed eggplant is sometimes added. Sauté the eggplant along with the onions. You may need to add a little more liquid to the simmering stew.
Fesenjan, also known as khoresht-e fesenjan, is special occasion food in Iran. It is traditionally made with duck or pheasant in the north of the country along the Caspian sea. It is a thick, rich, sweet-sour dish that improves in flavor the next day.

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