As soon as I saw that we were using pomegranates this week, my mind turned to exotic lands. I immediately thought of the countries in the Middle East where they use vibrant spices in their recipes. Thick molasses, curries, lemony sumac and pomegranates.
With the hopes of cold weather visiting us soon, I have been working on many different braising recipes. I have to say, they have all become favorites in our house. Braising is essentially a cooking method that saves you money as you can use tougher cuts of meat which tend to be cheaper, such as chuck, shank, brisket and oxtail. It also works wonderfully with chicken thighs.
A few steps to keep in mind when braising:
- Use a dutch oven with a lid.
- Pat the meat dry with paper towels before seasoning.
- Lightly season with salt and pepper.
- Heat a small amount of oil in the pan and brown all sides.
- Add liquid just before sliding into the oven. Not only will it add moisture but it is great as an added seasoning. It should barely cover the meat. You may have to keep adding a little more during the cooking process.
- At times I will add vegetables, such as carrots, parsnips, potatoes, etc…. during the last 60 minutes. Delicate veggies such as peas, beans or small onions I add during the last 30 minutes. I prefer that the vegetables are not overcooked. They need a slight crunch.
- Deglaze the pan before serving to create a rich sauce to serve with the meat.
For this recipe, I decided to use both fresh pomegranate seeds and molasses. Don’t be afraid of removing the seeds from a pomegranate; it is fairly simple.
Back to the recipe. The molasses is sweet as well as slightly tart. I have never used it before but can say that I am now a fan. I loved the deep, musky flavor of the molasses and certainly see a few recipes in the works using it. To balance the sweetness, I added some garlic and Fresno chilies. A little heat is never a terrible thing. One of the delicious things about using it in this recipe is that it gave the chicken super crispy skin. The balance of flavors is truly perfect: sweet, tart and spicy. I served it with mounds of steamed rice that was seasoned with saffron and pistachios. It really is a lovely recipe, and I hope you enjoy it as much as we did!
Denise believes anything can be made at home as long as you have a little patience, and time. All of her recipes are made using fresh and seasonal ingredients. Her recipes have been featured on Eat Boutique, the Mushroom Channel, Saveur.com, Foodies of the World, PBS and Fine Cooking.
She, also creates the recipes on the popular food blog Chez Us. Saveur has featured Chez Us as one of 50 Food Blogs You Should Be Reading as well as one of the Sites They Love. Be sure to read more about what they are cooking up over at Chez Us.