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Recipe Mon Dec 21 2009

One Saucy Stew: Khoresht-e Fesenjan

Koresh-e FesenjanKhoresht-e fesenjan or pomegranate-walnut stew is a classic Persian dish typically eaten during winter months in Iran. It consists of poultry, usually chicken, cooked slowly in a thick sauce of pomegranate syrup, ground walnuts and spices. Making fesenjan at home is part of a larger project I'm undertaking this winter to learn more about Persian food. I'm being guided by a friend who has been sharing recipes and spices that he gets from his in-laws in Iran. He recommended that I start my project with fesenjan for its simple preparation and sumptuous flavors.

Fesenjan can be made for weeknight dinner because it requires not much more than the time to operate the food processor and simmer the chicken to doneness. The pomegranate in the stew lends both tartness and sweetness, and the walnuts, a soothing, earthy creaminess. The tenderness of the poultry only adds to the luxuriousness of the dish. It is this brightness and comfort that make fesenjan an easy winter indulgence.

Khoresht-e Fesenjan

2 large yellow onions, chopped in a food processor to a soupy consistency
2 pounds chicken legs or duck breast cut up and skin removed (I used chicken thighs because that's what I had)
5 tablespoons butter or oil (I prefer butter, this time Nordic Creamery's Harvest Butter from Westby, WI, that I purchased at Provenance Food & Wine, 2312 W. Leland Ave.)
1 teaspoon salt
3/4 cup pomegranate molasses (available in Middle Eastern markets; I bought mine at Middle East Bakery & Grocery, 1512 W. Foster Ave.)
2 cups very finely ground shelled walnuts
1/2 teaspoon cinnamon
1/4 teaspoon ground saffron dissolved in 1 tablespoon hot water
2 tablespoons sugar
Handful of fresh pomegranate seeds (optional)

In a Dutch oven, melt the butter over medium heat. Add the onions and brown the chicken. Add the salt. In a medium bowl, mix together the pomegranate molasses, cinnamon, saffron water and sugar to make a paste. Add the paste to the chicken and onions. Mix thoroughly.

Cover and cook over low heat for about 1 hour and 20 minutes, stirring occasionally to prevent burning. Sparingly add water if the sauce gets too thick. Add pomegranate molasses and/or sugar to make the dish as tart and/or sweet as you like. Serve the stew with rice immediately, or wait until the following day to allow the flavors to come together. Just before serving, sprinkle the fesenjan with fresh pomegranate seeds.

Makes 4 servings
Preparation time: 30 minutes
Cooking time: 1 hour 20 minutes

(Adapted from Najmieh Batmanglij's New Food of Life: Ancient Persian and Modern Iranian Cooking and Ceremonies)

Want to experience fesenjan but don't feel like cooking? Masouleh Restaurant (6653 N. Clark St.) serves the chicken stew. Vegetarian or vegan? Try fesenjan made with eggplant and a rainbow of spices.

 
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Feature Thu Dec 31 2015

The State of Food Writing

By Brandy Gonsoulin

In 2009, food blogging, social media and Yelp were gaining popularity, and America's revered gastronomic magazine Gourmet shuttered after 68 years in business. Former Cook's Illustrated editor-in-chief Chris Kimball followed with an editorial, stating that "The shuttering of Gourmet reminds...
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