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Pomegranate Molasses Chicken
If you have invested in a bottle of pomegranate molasses, put it to good use make this utterly simple but delicious Middle Eastern chicken dish for dinner. You family will be thankful. The original recipe is by Honey & Co. from their column in the FT (click here for recipe), and the chicken is boneless and served with bulgar salad.
This is a wonderful weekday dinner, but also special enough to make when you friends over, especially those who don’t eat red meat. It is a near perfect balance of flavours; tangy, sweet and crunchy at the same time.
I am a big fan of chicken legs & thighs, and wouldn’t recommend substituting chicken breast for this. I prefer to cook chicken on the bone, but if you want, use boneless thighs with a shorter cooking time. If the chicken you buy has the skin on, don’t forget to turn it into crispy chicken crackling. with the added bonus of chicken drippings.
As with the lamb meatball dish, I have used quinoa to make the accompanying salad, instead of bulgur, but feel free to use whatever you have on hand.
See notes below on how to seed fresh pomegranate effortlessly.
Pomegranate Molasses Chicken
The main effort required is to prepare the marinade, and this can be done in advance, up to 2 days before cooking. Just keep the chicken refrigerated. Note that the marinade has no salt, to avoid drying out the chicken over during lengthy marinating period.
Mix the marinade ingredients together and use to coat the chicken all over. Cover and keep in the fridge for a minimum of 2 hours, or up to 2 days to marinate.
When ready to cook, preheat the oven to 200C (180C fan).
Meanwhile cook the quinoa as per packet instructions, or simply in 2 cups of boiling water in a pan. Once it comes to a boil, turn down, cover and cook about 15 minutes. Fluff and leave to cool.
To complete the salad, add all the remaining salad ingredients, holding back some pistachios, pomegranate seeds and herbs for garnishing. Mix well and set aside.
Heat the vegetable oil in a heavy roasting tin, or oven proof frying pan, over a medium heat and place the chicken thighs smooth-side down in it. Season well with salt and fry without moving for 2-3 minutes until the thighs go a lovely dark golden colour. Turnover, season the other side with salt and cook for a further 2 minutes.
Now place the roasting tin Place in the preheated oven for 25 minutes, by which time the chicken should be cooked through. (for boneless thighs, 10-15 minutes will suffice). The chicken will darken substantially, due to the natural sugars caramelising.
To serve: Spoon the salad on to individual plates or a large serving platter and top with the chicken and the juices that have accumulated in the frying pan. Sprinkle with the reserved pistachios, pomegranate seeds and a few herbs to garnish.
Seeding a fresh pomegranate
I learnt this trick watching Jamie Oliver, who usually bashes everything from garlic to ginger. But bashing pomegranate is actually perfect. Just cut it in half, hit it hard with a rolling pin, and watch all the seeds tumble out. Keep a bowl underneath your hands to catch the precious juices.
If you need to roast pistachios, just put them in the preheated oven whilst you are browning the chicken on the stovetop. They need just 8-10 minutes to lightly roast.