Monday, January 24, 2011

Chicken Thighs Braised in Pomegranate Molasses

This recipe is from Gluten-Free Girl, by Shauna James Ahern. Even though I’m not gluten-intolerant, I really liked this book for the way it treats food and for the variety of recipes, many with grains that aren’t usually mentioned in cookbooks. This particular recipe intrigued me for the use of pomegranate molasses, an ingredient that fascinated me. While the result was very good, I found that the sauce was much more liquid than I had anticipated, and the molasses were not as present as I had hoped (even though I used more than ½ cup). I ended up using a cornstarch slurry to thicken the sauce a bit, but next time I’ll just reduce the amount of chicken stock called for (though I’ll reproduce the recipe here with its original measurements). Note that while the roasted nuts are a good garnish, you could easily omit them if you suffer from allergies. This was very good chicken, though, and I’ll be making this recipe again. These quantities make about four servings, and I made rice with gomashio as a side.

8 Tbsp high-quality olive oil
4 Tbsp unsalted butter or margarine
8 chicken thighs, bone in and skin on
1 large white onion, chopped
8 cloves garlic, peeled and chopped
3 cups chicken stock (or less, as I said; if you’re using store-bought stock, make sure it’s gluten-free)
8 Tbsp pomegranate molasses
juice of 1 lemon
2 Tbsp sugar
1 tsp kosher salt
1 tsp cracked black pepper
½ cup cashews, raw and unsalted (optional)
½ cup pistachios, raw and unsalted (optional)
zest of 1 lemon

Preheat the oven to 425 °F.

Heat 3 Tbsp of the olive oil, along with the butter or margarine, in a heavy saucepan or skillet over medium-high heat. When the mixture has become a hot liquid, add the chicken thighs. Brown them quickly, just 1 or 2 minutes on each side. Put them in a roasting pan and set aside.

Add the remaining oil and the chopped onion to the saucepan and cook until it is soft, about 2 minutes. Then add the garlic and sauté for another 2 minutes.

When the onion and garlic are soft and golden, add the chicken stock, pomegranate molasses and lemon juice. Bring to a boil. Add the sugar. Cook for 1 minute. Add the salt and pepper.

Pour the stock and molasses mixture over the chicken thighs. Cover the pan with aluminum foil and put it into the oven. Bake for 45 minutes, or until the chicken is tender and internal temperature reads 165 °F on your meat thermometer.

Ten minutes before the chicken has finished baking, put the nuts in a skillet and place it into the oven alongside the chicken. Toss the nuts a few times while toasting to make sure they do not burn. (I did this in a pan on the stovetop. Of course, you can omit this step if you have a nut allergy; the chicken will still be delicious.)

Remove the chicken and the nuts from the oven. Place the chicken thighs on a platter. Pour the molasses sauce into a saucepan and bring it to a boil over medium-high heat. Let it simmer for about 10 minutes, or until the sauce begins to thicken. Whisk in 1 Tbsp of butter and the lemon zest. Remove from the heat. Pour the sauce over the chicken thighs. Sprinkle on the toasted nuts, if using, and serve.

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