Fessenjan: Persian Walnut and Pomegranate Chicken Stew

One 5-pound chicken
1 medium onion, quartered
1 teaspoon sea salt plus more to taste
1/2 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
1 teaspoon ground turmeric
2 pounds walnuts, ground in a food processor
4 cups (one 32-ounce bottle) pomegranate juice
1/4 cup pomegranate molasses, or to taste
3/4 pound dates, pitted and roughly chopped
1/2 pound dried apricots, roughly chopped
1 to 2 tablespoons date jam or sugar, or to taste (optional)
Chopped cilantro, to garnish
Pomegranate seeds, to garnish

Put the chicken in a large pot and pour water over top to almost cover, about 8 to 9 cups. Add the quartered onion, 1 teaspoon of the salt, the black pepper, and turmeric, then bring to a boil over medium high heat. Cover the pot and reduce the heat to a simmer, then cook the chicken until done, about 40 minutes.

Use tongs to remove the chicken from the pot and let it cool on a plate. Strain the broth into a large bowl and discard the onion pieces. You should have about 8 cups of broth. Once the chicken is cool enough to handle, use a fork and knife or your clean fingers to remove and discard the skin, then tear off bite-size pieces of chicken, putting the chicken pieces back into the empty pot. Discard the bones.

Add the ground walnuts, pomegranate juice, pomegranate molasses, dates, apricots, salt, and pepper to the chicken, then stir in 1 cup of the reserved chicken broth. Bring to a simmer over medium high heat, then lower the heat and cook, covered, for 1 hour, stirring occasionally and adding more broth as necessary to prevent sticking. Taste and add more pomegranate molasses and/or the date jam or sugar to reach the desired balance of sweet and tart. (Refrigerate or freeze any remaining broth for another use.)

Serve over rice, sprinkled with cilantro and pomegranate seeds, if you like.

Yield: 8 to 10 servings

Find this story online: https://www.tabletmag.com/recipes-2/191800/fessenjan-persian-stew-2