I was met with a familiar obstacle. I was asked to use an ingredient that will be in season at the time of publication, but not necessarily at the time of production. Pomegranates are one of the loftier hurdles I was presented with, simply due to their short season of availability. Never one to retreat from a challenge, I searched for inspiration. I found it in the Mediterranean, home of subtle spices that bring out complex flavors and terrific colors for presentation.
I decided to go with a roasted chicken dish, using a homemade spice rub as the base. I chose to utilize said seasonal ingredient as a base for a sauce, and the flavors are terrifically complementary.
Served with a side of spring greens tossed with fresh pomegranate seeds and lightly dusted with your favorite balsamic vinaigrette, which is super easy to make at home, this has enough warmth to comfort you on a cool fall evening. Yet it remains light enough to take on a late summer or early fall picnic. Enjoy.
• 1 tablespoon kosher salt
• 1 tablespoon black pepper
• 2 tablespoons ground coriander
• 2 tablespoon cinnamon
• 1 tablespoon cumin
• 1 tablespoon nutmeg
• 1 whole roaster (chicken, cut into parts)
• 8 oz. bottle pomegranate juice
• ½ pt. blueberries
• Orange zest
• ½ + ¼ cup brown sugar
Combine the first six ingredients thoroughly in a small bowl. Pay particular attention to the amounts, as “eye-balling” it can have unintended results. I made this mistake on my first attempt with this dish and ended up throwing away six pieces of salty chicken. After removing the skin from the chicken, coat generously with the spice rub. Set aside for 30 to 45 minutes. Preheat oven to 375 degrees.
Bake chicken for 45 minutes, rotating if necessary. Meanwhile, in a small saucepot, combine blueberries, orange zest, and enough juice to barely coat the top of the fruit. Bring to a boil. Reduce heat and simmer until the liquid is reduced by half. Add ½ cup brown sugar, stirring to combine completely. Once the brown sugar is fully dissolved, the sauce will begin to thicken a bit faster, so don’t walk away at this point. Turn off your burner, but don’t transfer the sauce until you’re ready to serve. The more this sauce cools, the thicker it will become. Refrigerated, it takes on a thick glaze consistency and becomes much less workable. Drizzle over finished roasted chicken, garnishing it with fresh pomegranate seeds, delighting in the wonderful color.
As a complement, I whisked the remaining ¼ cup of brown sugar and a teaspoon of cinnamon into 1 cup of plain Greek yogurt. Served along with the delicately spiced chicken and tart pomegranate sauce, the sweetened yogurt brings the entire flavor profile together perfectly.