Friday, February 19, 2016

Chicken with Lemon Pomegranate Sauce and Pistachio Rice

Last Year's Post:  Spinach, Squash and Apple Salad

I've had pomegranates before, as well as pomegranate juice, but not pomegranate sauce.  When I encountered this recipe, I thought the sauce would be bright red, relatively thick and sweet-tart, much like pomegranate seeds.  The reality, however, is something quite different - the recipe uses pomegranate molasses (a new ingredient for me) and lemon juice without any sugar at all to create a very bright, puckery sauce that's more like a vinaigrette.  I was a little concerned that it might need a touch of honey when I tasted it on it's own, but it was perfect when paired with the chicken - a very bright and interesting balance of flavors.

Who doesn't need another chicken recipe?  This one is healthy but also somewhat exotic with Middle Eastern flavors of pomegranate, cardamom, pistachios and dried fruits to get you out of your chicken rut.  And it's very fast to make - around 30 minutes all told - so it works for a weekday meal.

You can find pomegranate molasses in some upscale grocers (I found mine at Whole Foods), natural food stores, and of course Middle Eastern markets.

The sauce would also make a be great with pork or shrimp, and I can even see it as a salad dressing (it might need a touch of honey as a dressing but that's up to you).

Chicken with Pomegranate Lemon Sauce and Pistachio Rice
Serves 4

For the Sauce:
3 tablespoons pomegranate molasses
½ teaspoon lemon zest
3 tablespoons fresh lemon juice
3 tablespoons olive oil
¼ teaspoon salt
¼ teaspoon black pepper

For the Chicken:
2 large chicken breasts or 4 chicken cutlets
Salt and pepper
1 tablespoon olive oil

For the Rice:
½ cup finely chopped onion
½ teaspoon turmeric
¼ teaspoon ground cardamom
1 tablespoon unsalted butter
2/3 cup long-grain white rice
1 1/3 cups chicken broth
4 tablespoons pistachios nuts, toasted lightly and chopped
4 tablespoons golden raisins, currants, dried cranberries (or a combination)
4 tablespoons thinly sliced green onions
Salt and pepper

To make the sauce, whisk all ingredients together in a bowl to combine; set aside.

Next start the rice:  in a small heavy saucepan cook the onion with the turmeric and cardamom in the butter over moderately low heat, stirring, until the onion is softened.  Add the rice and cook, stirring, until coated with butter.  Add the broth, bring the liquid to a boil, cover, then reduce heat and simmer for 20 minutes until the liquid is absorbed.  Stir in the pistachios, dried fruit, green onions, and salt and pepper to taste.

While the rice is cooking, cook the chicken: cut the chicken breasts in half horizontally to form four cutlets (skip this step if you already have cutlets).  Salt and pepper both sides.  Heat the olive oil in a large skillet over medium-high heat, then add the chicken and sauté for 2-3 minutes per side until golden brown and cooked through.

To serve, divide the rice between plates and top each with a chicken cutlet.  Spoon the sauce over the chicken and serve.

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