Fesenjan (Persian chicken stew)

This delightful and unusual stew combines chicken with the flavors of pomegranates and walnuts. It is rich, sweet, and tangy, and its rich red color makes it an attractive dish to serve at a feast. The only specialized ingredient is pomegranate molasses, a syrupy concoction that is available at middle eastern and specialty markets, as well as on the web. This molasses has become a pantry staple for me. I rarely use it in such large amounts as this recipe calls for, but a tablespoon or two added to stews, soups, and the like it can add a layer of flavor and complexity that I often find welcome. I like to serve this stew over plain, long-grained white rice with a cucumber, yogurt, and mint salad.

8 boned, skinned chicken thighs
3 c shelled walnuts
1 medium onion, diced fine
1-1/2 c pomegranate molasses
3/4 c grated butternut squash or sweet potato (peeled)
1/2 tsp ground cinnamon
Chicken stock as needed, 1 to 2 c
1/2 tsp saffron dissolved in 2 TB warm water (optional)
White sugar, as needed

Heat oven to 350 degrees. Spread the walnuts in a single layer on a rimmed baking sheet and toast for 5-10 minutes. Remove from oven and let cool.

While the walnuts are toasting, cut each chicken thigh in half. In a skillet, sauté in a bit of olive oil until lightly browned on both sides. Remove from heat and set aside.

When cool, put walnuts in a food processor and pulse until coarsely ground, perhaps the size of cooked rice grains. Do not let it get pasty.

Put walnuts, onion, and 2 c water in a stew pot and simmer for 20 minutes.

Add the squash or potato, molasses, chicken, cinnamon, saffron (if using), 1 c chicken stock, and a good pinch of salt. Simmer, covered, for about 30 minutes, stirring once in a while. Add more chicken stock if the mixture is getting too dry. At the end of 30 minutes, taste the stew and if necessary use small amounts of sugar, molasses, and/or salt to get the flavor where you want it. Simmer slowly for another 10-15 minutes and serve.

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Explore posts in the same categories: Ethnic, Poultry, Stews

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