Tired of roasted chicken and need a unique Sunday dinner? Looking for that oh-so-impressive main course for your next dinner party? Dying to make use of the plentiful pomegranates at the market? Whatever your conundrum, this pomegranate chicken is the answer. Perfectly spiced, just sweet enough, and fall apart tender, this is a must-make winter recipe.
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Look, I’m not trying to be bossy. Okay, maybe I am. But that’s why you come here (some of the time) yes? Awesome. Right, so, back to being pushy – y’all need to make this pomegranate chicken right now.
This recipe is a little different from a lot of the pomegranate chicken recipes I’ve tried. I had originally planned this as a quick and easy pan-seared bone-in thigh situation with a fresh pomegranate relish. But after a consult with my trusty Flavor Bible, I went in a different direction and holy smokes am I glad I did.
The extra time and attention given to the chicken by searing and then braising in pomegranate juice and coconut milk results in a slightly sweet, perfectly spiced stew-like texture. The finished pomegranate chicken is a little bit crispy, and fall apart tender. Little bites of soft-but-still-crunchy walnuts really amp up the fun factor, and pops of pomegranate seeds add the necessary acidity to cut through and complement the rich chicken. It’s DI-vine, and a seasonal must-make!
How to Make Pomegranate Chicken
This pomegranate chicken is a spin-off of traditional Persian fesenjan. My version is less fussy in preparation and more savory than sweet. It’s naturally paleo and gluten free, and a fun and festive way to use one of the most delicious fall and winter fruits.
Some important housekeeping:
- This recipe moves fairly quickly after you get the chicken started, so make sure you have your items prepped and ready to go before starting.
- I prefer to make braises and stews in my dutch oven because it holds heat so well, but if you don’t have one, a large soup pot or deep sautee pan will get the job done. Just ensure whatever you use has a tight-fitting lid and is wider than it is tall.
- This recipe takes a little over an hour start-to-finish, but it’s largely hands-off time, and 100% worth the wait.
Alright, let’s get started!
Heat a dutch oven over high heat. Add a few tablespoons of coconut oil, and heat until the oil shimmers. Don’t skimp on the oil. Add the chicken to the oil, toss to coat in the fat, and sautee until the chicken is browned. It’s doesn’t need to be crisp or golden brown, but do cook until it’s no longer pink.
Add the shallots to the chicken, give everything a good stir, and sautee until they’re soft, about 5 minutes. Then make a clearing in the center of the pot and add the garlic and ginger. Stir those around until super fragrant.
Then add the spices and stir everything together until the spices are toasted and it’s even more fragrant. At this time I will caution you to have a small snack handy because it’s going to smell so flipping good, and you’re presumably already hungry for dinner. You’ve been warned.
Add in the chopped walnuts, stir everything again, then pour in the pomegranate juice. The juice will bubble, and you should take a moment to scrape up any browned flavor bits from the bottom of the pan. Once the pomegranate juice stops bubbling, add in the coconut milk and a dash of honey.
Give everything one more good stir, and then allow the liquid to come to a boil. Cover it, reduce the heat to low, and simmer away for 20 minutes. Then crack the lid to allow steam to escape and simmer an additional 10 minutes. Those last 10 minutes partially uncovered will allow some of the moisture to evaporate and the sauce to thicken up.
Shazam!! Would you look at that pomegranate chicken? After braising in the pomegranate juice and coconut milk, the chicken pieces should be fall apart tender – see those little shreds? If it’s not, continue to simmer with the lid fully ON (as long as the sauce has thickened up) and check the texture every five minutes.
Portion the chicken over steamed rice (or your base of choice) and garnish with fresh chopped parsley and pomegranate seeds. The parsley is optional, but the seeds are a must.
Dietary Accommodations and Variations
- Naturally paleo and and Whole30 friendly (omit the honey)
- Dairy free and gluten free
- Low carb (23g net carbs)
- Feel free to use chicken breast instead of chicken thigh
What to Serve with Pomegranate Chicken
- We had this over steamed rice with a side of clementines and it was the perfect seasonal dinner. It’s also lovely over saffron rice or couscous, or spoon over cauliflower rice for a paleo and low carb dinner.
- This chicken is packed with so much flavor, so avoid side dishes that might compete too much. Steamed green beans, roasted radishes, or pan seared cauliflower would be perfect.
More Healthy Dinner Recipes
- Pumpkin Chicken Chili
- Za’atar Chicken
- Beef Kofta Spiced Meatballs
- Roasted Vegetable Salad with Green Tahini
- Turmeric Chicken Soup
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This pomegranate chicken is a spin-off of traditional Persian fesenjan. My version is less fussy in preparation and more savory than sweet. It's naturally paleo and gluten free, and a fun and festive way to use one of the most delicious fall and winter fruits.
- 2 tbsp coconut oil
- 1.5 lb boneless skinless chicken thighs fat trimmed, cut into 1" cubes
- 1 large shallot thinly sliced
- 2 cloves garlic minced
- 1 tbsp grated ginger
- 1 tsp cumin
- 1/2 tsp cardamom
- 1/2 tsp cinnamon
- 1/2 tsp salt
- 1/2 tsp cracked black pepper
- 1/2 c chopped walnuts
- 1 c pomegranate juice
- 1/2 c coconut milk
- 1 tbsp honey
- 1/2 c pomegranate seeds
- 2 tbsp chopped fresh parsley
Prepare the chicken (taking care to remove any visible fat first as it will turn gummy), shallots, garlic, ginger, and walnuts and set aside. Portion out spices and set aside. This recipe moves quickly, so prepped mis-en-place is useful.
Heat a dutch oven over medium high heat. Add the coconut oil, and heat until it shimmers.
Add the diced chicken to the dutch oven, sprinkle with a pinch of sea salt, and sautee, stirring frequently, until browned and no longer pink.
Add the shallot to the dutch oven, toss to with the chicken, and sautee until soft, stirring frequently, about 5 minutes.
Make a small clearing in the center of the dutch oven and add the garlic and ginger. Sautee, stirring continuously, until very fragrant, about 1 minute.
Add the spices, salt, and pepper, stirring throughly into the chicken, and sautee until toasted and fragrant.
Add the walnuts and stir into the chicken. Add the pomegranate juice, continuously scraping up any browned bits from the bottom of the dutch oven until the juice stops bubbling. Add the coconut milk and honey, then once again stir all ingredients together.
Allow the liquid to come to a boil, then reduce the heat to medium low, cover, and simmer for 20 minutes. Crack the lid and simmer an additional 10 minutes, or until the sauce is thick and the chicken is starting to fall apart.
Ladle the chicken over steamed rice, couscous, cauliflower rice, or your base of choice. Garnish with pomegranate seeds and chopped parsley. Serve immediately. Leftovers keep in a tightly sealed container in the fridge for up to 5 days.
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