A few weeks ago, Gabrielle complained to me of an attempt to make pomegranate chicken. It wasn’t bad, she said, it just wasn’t pomegranate-y enough. So I set out to create an easy recipe that would give her the flavor kick she was looking for. The dish turned out deliciously, and accompanied by creamy polenta, fresh spinach, and roasted root vegetables, it made a pretty perfect autumn meal.
In this case, I used beets and carrots (and a stray turnip that somehow made it into our groceries), but you could use whatever root veg you prefer.
- 4 boneless skinless chicken breasts
- 1 whole pomegranate (or 1/2 cup pomegranate juice)
- 1/4 cup balsamic vinegar
- 1 clove garlic
- dash of cloves
- 1 Tbsp Italian herb seasoning
- 6-8 small beets
- 3 large carrots
- extra virgin olive oil
- salt and pepper to taste
First, make your marinade by seeding and juicing your pomegranate (For those of you unpracticed in the art of the pomegranate, Shiksa in the Kitchen has a great tutorial.) Add a splash of olive oil and a sprinkle of salt and pepper, as well as the clove of garlic, peeled and lightly crushed, cloves, and dried herbs (you can either buy a prepared blend or make your own Italian herb seasoning). Trim any excess fat from chicken breasts, and place in marinade.
Next, preheat the oven to 350°F and chop your root vegetables into pieces. Place in the bottom of a dutch oven or casserole dish with a lid. Drizzle with olive oil, and salt and pepper. Toss gently. Place chicken breasts on top of the vegetables, along with about a third of the marinade mixture. Fish out the garlic clove, and set the rest of the marinade aside for your sauce.
Roast in the preheated oven, covered, for 10 minutes, then mix the vegetables around and turn over the breasts. If the contents are looking dry, add a little bit of chicken stock, wine, or water. Re-cover and bake an additional 10-15 minutes, checking often to prevent over-cooking. You should pull the dish out when the chicken reaches an internal temperature of 160° (5 degrees underdone, to allow for continued cooking while the meat rests).
In the meantime, take the remaining marinade and simmer in a shallow saucepan over medium-low heat, stirring frequently to prevent burning, until it reduces into a thick, dark, shiny sauce. Serve chicken and vegetables drizzled with pan sauce and garnished with leftover pomegranate seeds.
There’s no lack of pomegranate-y-ness in this recipe. It’s fruity and sweet, but also intensely tangy — perfect for pairing with a fresh salad and nutty whole-wheat couscous or creamy polenta (recipe to come). I’ll definitely be making it again this Christmas season… hopefully for Gabrielle!