If you have ever been tasked with separating pomegranate arils from their white pithy interior, you will sympathize with chef Einat Admony who as a child would spend days cracking and separating a case of pomegranates for her mother’s famous marmalade. This recipe for Chicken with Pomegranate and Walnut (inspired by Admony’s mother) requires sorting 10 cups of pomegranate seeds. “If, for some crazy reason, you manage to live without pomegranate confiture,” she writes, “you can replace it by whisking together 1/2 cup pomegranate molasses, 1/2 cup pomegranate juice, and 1/4 cup honey.” But she tells Good Food’s Evan Kleiman that her mother would never do that.
Listen to their conversation below and keep reading for her recipe.
Mom’s Chicken with Pomegranate and Walnuts
Serves 4 to 6
My mom taught me a lot about cooking, but she also taught me about kitchen responsibility—stuff like how to clean rice so there are no black spots and how to properly rinse fava beans. One job I remember in particular was removing, separating, and collecting pomegranate seeds for her famous preserves. This jam goes wonderfully on bread, but mainly it was for her chicken: she’d mix it with water and let it simmer on the chicken inside the pan. It makes a sweet-and-sour chicken better than anything you’ll find at a Chinese restaurant.
If, for some crazy reason, you manage to live without pomegranate confiture, you can replace it by whisking together 1/2 cup pomegranate molasses, 1/2 cup pomegranate juice, and 1/4 cup honey.
2 pounds chicken thighs and drumsticks
1 tablespoon plus 1 teaspoon kosher salt
2 teaspoons freshly ground black pepper
2 teaspoons ground cumin
2 teaspoons ground turmeric
3 tablespoons canola oil
11⁄4 cups Pomegranate Confiture (below)
3 cups toasted walnuts
Pinch of saffron threads (optional)
1. Place a large pot over medium-high heat for 5 minutes. While the pot is heating, pat the chicken dry and season with the salt, pepper, cumin, and turmeric.
2. Add the oil to the pot and add the chicken. Brown the chicken on all sides. Overcrowding the pot will steam the chicken instead of searing it. Add the pomegranate confiture and stir in the walnuts and the saffron.
3. Place a lid on the pot and bring to a boil, then lower the heat to simmer for 45 minutes. Uncover and reduce the sauce for another 45 minutes. Remove from the heat and take the pot straight to the table for a family-style meal.
Makes about 2 cups
For this recipe you’ll need to learn how to seed a pomegranate. It’s easier than you think. Slice the pomegranate in half and then hold it upside down (i.e., skin side up) in your hand. Then do your best Ringo Starr imitation and bang the living daylights out of it with a spoon, and watch as the seeds rain down into your mixing bowl.
6 cups pomegranate seeds (from about 10 medium-sized pomegranates)
6 cups sugar (the number of cups of sugar should equal the number of cups of pomegranate seeds)
1⁄4 cup water
1. Place the seeds, sugar, and water in a medium saucepan and bring the mixture to a boil. Lower the heat to simmer—make sure the heat is as low as possible!—and cook until thick, like syrup, about 35 minutes. Make sure to stir the mixture regularly to prevent the bottom from burning. Remove from the heat and, using a ladle, strain and discard any excess seeds. Let cool completely.
2. Store in an airtight container in the refrigerator for up to 1 year. Not only is the confiture great on slices of toast and sandwiches, it does wonders with so many delicious chicken dishes, like Mom’s Chicken with Pomegranate and Walnuts.
Excerpted from Balaboosta by Einat Admony (Artisan Books). Copyright (c) 2013. Photograph by Quentin Bacon.