I actually made this dish back in the fall when I was interested in photographing a couple things, one being a completed, somewhat messy, dish. What could be messier than stew, hmmm? And really, given the chilly (understatement) days we've had lately, what could be more warming than a well-spiced and hearty chicken stew? To my mind, this one, while a leeetle bit complicated, fits the bill.
This stew is for lazy Sundays when you have the time to roast the walnuts and the patience to watch the oven to keep them from burning. It's for warming bellies that have spent afternoons outdoors skating on icy ponds or skiing down snowy paths. It's for cold-flushed cheeks and bone-chilled hands. It's for a hearty red wine and a fire in the fire place. The longer it simmers, the better. It's nice to know it's home, waiting for you.
Persian Chicken Stew with Walnuts and Pomegranates, adapted from Elsie Bauer at Simply Recipes.
1 to 1 1/5 cups walnut halves
1 yellow onion, chopped
1 bag, roughly 10oz, pearl onions, blanched and peeled
2 lbs boneless, skinless chicken thighs, salt and peppered and patted dry
2 Tablespoons butter
3 Tablespoons olive oil
5 Tablespoons pomegranate molasses
2 Cups chicken broth
2 Tablespoons plus 2 teaspoons sugar
1/2 Teaspoon tumeric
1/2 Teaspoon cumin
1/4 Teaspoon cinnamon (or more to taste)
1/4 Teaspoon ground all spice
Salt and ground black pepper to taste
Preheat the oven to 350º. On a rimmed baking sheet, toast the walnut halves for 8-10 minutes until lightly browned. Once toasted and cool enough to handle, chop walnuts in a food processor until finely ground. Set aside.
In a Dutch Oven, heat half of the butter and 2T of the olive oil over medium high heat. Add the chicken (you may have to do this in batches to avoid crowding the pan), and cook until golden brown on all sides. Remove chicken from the pan and add the remaining butter and oil. Once the butter has melted, add the chopped onions and saute´until translucent.
Return the chicken to the pan. Cover with 2 cups of chicken broth, bring to a boil and reduce to a simmer, simmering for 30 minutes. Add the pearl onions, ground walnuts, pomegranate molasses, sugar and spices and stir to mix. Cover and continue to cook on very low heat for 1 hour, stirring every 20 minutes or so.
After 1 hour, adjust seasoning for taste and remove from heat. Serve with couscous or rice or potatoes and garnish with pomegranate seeds.