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Chicken with Pomegranates #3: Ohf Rimonim (2) - meat

Posted by : Karen Selwyn

The following two recipes represent an interesting example of American
cuisine being influenced by Jewish cuisine.  The newspaper article from
which these two recipes were taken was published in time for the secular
New Year, however, the recipe idea -- pomegranates -- is based on the
symbolic foods of Rosh Hashanah.

The newspaper article mentions this briefly when it states "Pomegranate
molasses is the concentrated juice of the fall fruit prized in Israel
and other Middle Eastern countries as a symbol of fertility and the new
year."  

Gloria Greene's comments on food for Rosh Hashanah from her book, JEWISH
HOLIDAY COOKBOOK, goes into more detail with the following: "On the
second night of Rosh Hashanah, at least one fruit not yet sampled in the
season is eaten... In many Jewish households, this fruit is either
grapes or pomegranate, two favorites in both ancient and modern-day
Israel.  The pomegranate also represents the hope that we will be
privileged in the coming year to perform as many worthy and pious deeds
as the pomegranate has seeds."

Elizabeth Large's newspaper article contains a very practical suggestion
when shopping for pomegranate molasses: "You won't find pomegranate
molasses on your supermarket shelf, at least not yet. (It's available at
most Middle Eastern markets and some other ethnic food stores.) And you
won't find it sold in the United States under that name any longer,
because technically it's not molasses. Look for "concentrated
pomegranate juice." 

Karen Selwyn

*   *   *   *   *   *
                     
Pomegranate-Honey Roasted Game Hens 

Adapted from Paula Wolfert's THE COOKING OF THE EASTERN MEDITERRANEAN.

1 cup fresh pomegranate juice (see notes) 
1/2 cup plus 3 tablespoons honey 
1/2 teaspoon ground coriander 
1/2 teaspoon cinnamon 
1/2 teaspoon allspice 
1/4 teaspoon cayenne pepper 
6 cloves garlic, smashed 
3 game hens, split in half 
Salt and pepper to taste 
Pomegranate seeds for garnish 
Chopped, roasted pistachio nuts for garnish 

Mix pomegranate juice, 1/2 cup honey and next 5 ingredients; pour over
hens. Marinate, covered, overnight or at least 8 hours in the
refrigerator, turning occasionally. 

Drain hens, reserving marinade. Simmer marinade,
covered, for 10 minutes; reserve. Season hens with salt and pepper.

Bake at 450 degrees, basting frequently with reserved marinade,
until hens are just firm to the touch, about 25 minutes. 

Remove hens from oven; let rest covered with a tea towel for 5 minutes.
Brush each half with 1/2 tablespoon honey.  Garnish with pomegranate
seeds and chopped pistachios. 

Makes 6 servings. 

Note: For 1 cup of juice, put 1 1/2 to 2 cups pomegranate seeds in
blender; blend until liquified. Pour mixture through a cleesecloth-lined
strainer or sieve. 

Note: To remove the seeds, cut the crown end off a pomegranate, removing
with it some of the white pith.  Take care not to pierce the seeds
within. Lightly score the skin in quarters, from the stem to crown end.
Firmly yet gently break the sections apart, following the score lines.
Bend back the skin and gently scoop the seed clusters into a bowl;
remove any pith. 

*   *   *   *   *   *   *
                     
Chicken Breasts in Walnut and Pomegranate Sauce 

Adapted from Rozanne Gold's new 1-2-3 MENU COOKBOOK, scheduled to be
published next fall. 

2/3 pound walnut pieces 
4 1/2 pounds chicken breasts, bone in, skin on 
  (approximately 3 whole breastssplit into 6 pieces) 
7 tablespoons pomegranate molasses 
Salt, freshly ground pepper to taste 

Put walnuts in food processor and finely grind almost to a paste.  In a
large nonstick skillet, brown walnuts slowly over medium heat, stirring
constantly with a wooden spoon. Adjust heat so they do not burn but turn
dark very slowly.  

After approximately 15 minutes, walnuts will be a deep chocolate color;
remove from heat and place in a large, heavy pot, big enough to
accommodate chicken in a single layer, with 3 1/2 cups of water. 

Wipe the nonstick skillet clean with a paper towel. Add chicken breasts
and brown on both sides over medium heat until chicken is almost cooked
through. When browned, remove breasts along with pan juices and add to
the casserole. Simmer slowly until thickened, about 15 minutes. Remove
chicken with a slotted spoon. 

Once sauce is thick, add pomegranate molasses, salt and freshly ground
pepper. Cook over medium-high heat and reduce sauce for 5 minutes
longer. Adjust seasonings, including pomegranate molasses, for a balance
of salty, bitter, sour and sweet. Return chicken to casserole and heat
for a few minutes until hot. 

This is a monochromatic brown, so you may want to garnish with
pomegranate seeds or fresh coriander or parsley. 

Serves 6. 

Source: "Pomegranate molasses adds new flavor to dishes"
         Elizabeth Large of THE BALTIMORE SUN
         THE DETROIT NEWS (on-line edition), 12/30/97

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