Monday, March 1, 2010

Make Your Own Fesenjan

We had a great time talking with Louisa Shafia, author of Lucid Food on the last Food Friday (if you missed it, listen to it here). Fesenjan came up as a favorite so we asked Louisa if we could post the recipe so you could make fesenjan at home.

Fesenjan (Chicken in Pomegranate Walnut Sauce)

Fesenjan combines fruit and meat, a Persian cooking style that traveled to Europe in the Middle Ages. This version gets its deep ruby color from the addition of beets (shown opposite). Served with rice, this stew makes for a sumptuous feast. Instead of chicken, try using duck or tempeh. Look for pomegranate syrup at natural and Middle Eastern food stores. If you can’t find pomegranate syrup, substitute 21/2 cups of unsweetened pomegranate juice and leave out the stock.  Serves 6

4 tablespoons olive oil
2 pounds skinless chicken legs or breasts, rinsed and patted dry
1 large or 2 small yellow onions, diced
2 beets, peeled, quartered, and sliced 1/4 inch thick
11/2 cups walnuts, pulsed in a food processor until coarsely ground
1 clove garlic, minced
1 teaspoon ground cinnamon
Pinch of cayenne pepper
1/2 cup unsweetened pomegranate syrup
2 cups vegetable or chicken stock
1 recipe Green Rice (page 190)
Seeds from 1/2 pomegranate
Fresh cilantro leaves for garnish
2 recipes Cucumber Yogurt (page 184)

Heat a skillet over high heat and add 2 tablespoons of the olive oil. When the oil is hot, add the chicken and brown lightly on both sides, working in batches to avoid crowding the pan. Remove the pan from the heat and set aside.

Heat a large sauté pan over medium-high heat and add the remaining 2 tablespoons olive oil. Add the onions and cook until lightly browned. Add the beets, walnuts, garlic, cinnamon, and cayenne and cook, stirring, for 1 minute. Add the pomegranate syrup and stock and bring to a boil. Cook at a low boil, covered, for 10 minutes.

Add the chicken and simmer, uncovered and stirring occasionally, for 30 minutes. The stew should be bubbling the whole time. Turn the chicken pieces over every 10 to 15 minutes. Taste and add salt, if necessary. The beets should be fork-tender.

To serve, transfer the chicken to a cutting board. For chicken legs, separate the thigh from the drumstick. For breasts, slice each one into 2 or 3 pieces. Put a small mound of rice on each plate with a few pieces of chicken on top. Spoon the stew over the chicken. Sprinkle the pomegranate seeds and several cilantro leaves on top. Serve the cucumber yogurt on the side

Reprinted with permission from Lucid Food: Cooking for an Eco-Conscious Life by Louisa Shafia, copyright © 2009. Published by Ten Speed Press, a division of Random House, Inc.

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