Persian Chicken and Pomegranate Stew (Fesenjoon)
This may be one of my favorite Persian stews. Traditionally made with duck, fesenjoon can be a super heavy dish, as a calorie-rich meal that would be eaten to provide energy to last throughout the day. My version is a bit lighter using chicken legs and adding butternut squash to the mix. After searing the legs, they are braised in a rich blend of walnuts, chicken stock, pomegranate juice and pomegranate molasses. It's nutty, sweet, sour and savory all at the same time, making it a powerhouse of a dish.
Like most stews, it's always better the next day, so feel free to make this recipe a day or two in advance of when you're going to serve it. And on the off chance you have leftovers, strip the meat from the bones and use it as a filling for tahchin! You won't be sorry.
Persian Chicken and Pomegranate Stew (Fesenjoon
Yield: 8 to 10 servings
Prep Time: 25 minutes
Cook Time: 1 hour and 50 minutes
Total Time: 2 hours and 15 minutes
3 cups walnuts, toasted
2 1/2 cups chicken stock
1 cup pomegranate juice
1/3 cup pomegranate molasses
3 tablespoons chicken fat or oil
3 1/2 pounds (6 each) skinless chicken legs
Kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper, to taste
2 yellow onions, diced
1/2 teaspoon turmeric
1 pound peeled butternut squash, cut into 1 1/2-inch pieces
- In a blender, pulse the walnuts into a coarse powder. Add the stock, pomegranate juice and pomegranate molasses, then blend until smooth.
- In a wide Dutch oven, heat the chicken fat over medium-high heat. Working in 2 batches, sear the chicken legs, turning as needed, until lightly golden, 8 to 10 minutes per batch. Transfer the legs to a plate.
- To the Dutch oven, add the onions and turmeric and cook, stirring often, until softened and lightly golden, 4 to 5 minutes. Slowly pour in the walnut mixture, scraping up any brown bits on the bottom of the pot. Add the chicken back in and bring to a boil.
- Reduce the heat to low and cook, covered, for 45 minutes, giving the legs a stir every 15 minutes. Add the squash and continue to cook, covered, until both the squash and chicken are very tender, another 45 minutes.
- Remove from the heat and serve with rice.