Tuesday, 2 January 2018

Lemon and Sumac Chicken with Pomegranate Glaze

Now that Christmas is over, along with all of the food that goes along with the season, I can get back to using up and experimenting with all the bits and pieces I acquired over the last month.

I started with sumac, a pomegranate, a zested and very juicy lemon as well as the open jar of apple-pomegranate jelly in the fridge. With all of these Mediterranean flavours, I also cooked the last of my couscous (I honestly thought I had a lot more) to serve with the tender, juicy and oh-so-full-of-flavour chicken and pomegranate glaze.

If you haven't tried fresh pomegranate, now is a great time to do so, as they are readily available at this time of year. The bright red seeds are little bursts of juice, with a sweet-tart flavour. Pomegranates can be messy to peel, but I have included a helpful link here:

How to peel and seed a pomegranate

Once you have dealt with the pomegranate, set the seeds aside as they are used right at the end of the recipe.

Make the marinade by combining the following:

Juice of half a lemon, about 2 tablespoons
2 tablespoons olive oil
2 cloves garlic, minced
1/2 teaspoon turmeric
1 teaspoon cumin
1 1/2 teaspoons sumac
1/4 teaspoon salt
1/4 teaspoon ground black pepper

Place 2 boneless, skinless chicken breasts into the marinade, turning to coat well.

Cover with plastic wrap and refrigerate for at least 2 hours.

To cook the chicken, sear both sides well in a hot pan.

There is enough olive oil in the marinade to cook them in.

Remove the chicken from the pan and set aside. Keep the pan. Turn the oven on to heat to 350F.

Slice the remaining lemon half into slices, and add them to the pan, along with a drizzle of olive oil.

Cook until both sides are caramelized, about 2 - 3 minutes. Set aside, and keep the pan.

To the pan, add a drizzle of olive oil if needed, and:

1 medium onion, thinly sliced.

Cook, stirring often until the onion starts to caramelize and soften.

Place the onion in the bottom of an ovenproof dish.

Place the chicken on top, and then add the cooked lemon slices.

Bake until the chicken is fully cooked, about 40 minutes. Remove from the oven and allow the chicken to rest for 5 minutes.

While the chicken is baking, make the glaze. In the same pan, reduce by half:

1/2 cup pomegranate juice

Scrape the bottom of the pan to loosen the yumminess from the chicken, onion and lemon.

Stir in:

1/4 cup of apple-pomegranate jelly

Cook on medium low heat until the glaze thickens.

To serve, place the hot couscous into the bottom of a shallow bowl. I also served steamed green beans. Divide the onions between the bowls. I placed the onions in the centre of the couscous. Top with the chicken breast, sliced if you wish. Drizzle the chicken with the pomegranate glaze and garnish with the pomegranate seeds.

  • I bought the pomegranate juice, but you can blend pomegranate seeds and then strain it through cheesecloth or a coffee filter to remove the solids. The juice I bought was unsweetened; when the jelly was added the glaze was still slightly tart.
  • Pomegranate seeds can be eaten with a spoon, added to fruit salads. You can use them to garnish desserts, add them to salads, eat them with yoghurt or ice cream, add them to smoothies.
  • Caramelizing the lemon slices removes some of the tartness and adds a bit of sweetness. Use the slices as part of your meal. They can also be used instead of preserved lemons in a pinch. 
  • Cut the chicken into strips or chunks before marinating and thread onto skewers. Cook on the grill, and baste with the glaze.
  • Use the marinade with skin on chicken thighs or whole chicken, and baste with the unreduced glaze during roasting. Reduce any remaining glaze, or make extra, for serving.
  • The marinade is quite tart, thanks to the lemon juice and sumac, but this balances nicely with the jelly in the glaze. 
  • Straight apple jelly can be used. You can also use honey for the sweetener. I would use less honey and add more if needed.
  • My original plan was to cook extra couscous and set aside some chicken for a lunch salad, but I had exactly enough couscous for the two of us, so next time! If you do this, set some glaze aside and use it as the dressing, along with lemon juice and olive oil.

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