I usually enjoy pomegranate seeds in a bowl of yogurt or as a snack. I had never thought about using pomegranate seeds in a savory recipe until I did a bit of research on where they came from. Then my approach to using this ingredient in the kitchen completely changed. It may seem a bit unorthodox to combine chicken along with this pomegranate but stick with me as this recipe is so flavorful as well as easy to make.
Pomegranates originated in Persia (modern-day Iran) and have been cultivated in Iraq, Pakistan, India, Russia, and Mediterranean regions. They prefer to grow in dry areas and are drought tolerant. The fruit is an excellent source of vitamin B5, potassium, and vitamin C.
The outside of the fruit is a semi-hard shell, once broken open, there are hundreds of red (and juicy) seeds that can be consumed. The taste can be very sweet or sour, depending on the variety as well as the ripeness. The juice of the pomegranate is hugely popular in Persian and Indian cuisine and is truly delicious, especially when squeezed fresh. Did you know that typically grenadine syrup, which is widely used in cocktails, is usually made with pomegranate juice? Before tomatoes arrived in the Middle East, grenadine would be used in most traditional Iranian recipes.
Pomegranates can be intimidating when it comes down to breaking it open and removing the seeds. Most people are afraid that they will stain the house or that it will take too long. Don’t buy the seeds prepackaged as it costs more money than doing it yourself and you lose all that precious juice.
Some people like to break apart the fruit under running water; I feel that this method wastes the juice that is slightly extracted during the process. The process I use is fairly straightforward with minimal (if any staining). After putting an apron on, I take the fruit, roll it on the counter to loosen up the seeds. Then I cut it into quarters, using a cutting board that I do not mind getting a little stained. Then I place a mixing bowl on the counter or in the sink, and gently break apart the flesh from the seeds over the bowl. If the seeds are stuck I lightly tap with the back of a spoon. As I drop the seeds into the bowl, the juices from the flesh run into the same bowl. The entire process takes less than 5 minutes.
For this recipe, I used fresh pomegranate seeds along with pomegranate molasses. The seeds were used more as a garnish as well as to add some acid to the finished recipe. I love serving an acidic fruit alongside cooked meat as it helps cut the fat.
When I began working on the idea for this recipe I was concerned that it may be too sweet when using a syrup but was pleasantly surprised as the pomegranate molasses adds a bit of tartness which blends very well with the smokiness of the Aleppo pepper along with the aromatics. This recipe is perfect served with buttery rice for a quick weeknight meal.
1/2 cup yellow onion, minced
3 garlic cloves, minced finely
1 teaspoon Aleppo pepper
2 tablespoons olive oil or chicken fat
8 chicken thighs. bone and skin on
3/4 cup chicken stock k
1/2 cup pomegranate molasses
1/2 pomegranate, seeds removed
Italian parsley, for garnish
In a large dutch oven over medium-low heat, add the olive oil or chicken fat and cook the onion until soft; about 3 minutes.
Add the garlic and the Aleppo pepper. Stir to combine. Place this mixture into a small bowl and set aside.
Brown the chicken thighs on each side until golden in the same pan over medium-low heat. I do this in batches of 4 to prevent crowding.
Add the onion mixture to the browned chicken. Pour the stock and molasses over the top of the chicken. Lightly stir and then cover with the lid.
Simmer on low until the chicken is cooked to 165 on a meat thermometer. This will take about 15 – 20 minutes. I stir occasionally to prevent sticking.
Place the chicken onto a serving platter.
Reduce the sauce to about half over medium-low heat, stirring the entire time to prevent sticking. This will take about 5 – 8 minutes.
Pour the sauce over the chicken thighs.
Sprinkle some minced parsley over the top and then scatter the pomegranate seeds on top.