Home / Lifestyle / Food

Pomegranates perk up chicken

The New York Times | Updated: 2011-07-20 13:15

Pomegranates perk up chicken

[Photo/The New York Times]

Of all the condiments in my overstuffed pantry, pomegranate molasses ranks among the most intense.

A Middle Eastern staple, it is made from pomegranate juice simmered until nearly as thick and dark as espresso, but with even more punch. Both pickle-sour and syrupy sweet, it’s as pungent as chile paste but with the vivid bristle of tart red fruit instead of capsicum heat.

In Middle Eastern cuisine, pomegranate molasses is usually tossed into salads, stirred into stews and sprinkled on vegetables and fish.

In my kitchen, I especially adore it as a way to perk up mild meats like chicken. A small drizzle can add just the right note of sweet-tart complexity to make everything shine.

But the one place pomegranate molasses has failed me and my birds is on the grill. Because of the abundant sugar content of the molasses, the high heat of grilling turns it from brown and sticky to smoking and ashen in minutes.

I spent a frustrating summer last year smearing it on chicken thighs at different points in the grilling process — at the beginning, in the middle and at the very end — then watching it blacken to various degrees, none of them good.

This summer, I had a simpler plan. I marinated chicken thighs in cumin, allspice, cayenne, paprika, garlic, thyme and olive oil. Then I grilled them over indirect heat prepared with very hot coals, which I find to be the best method for grilling chicken.

This is because, if chicken is thrown directly over the heat, it yields burned skin covering flesh that’s too pink at the bone. But if the heat on the empty side isn’t hot enough, the meat turns tough and dry before browning. Mounding a lot of burning coals on the empty side, or setting a gas grill to high on that side, usually allows the chicken skin to bronze while the meat cooks through to juicy perfection.

I waited until after the chicken was off the grill to drizzle on the pomegranate molasses. Then, to add a juicy, summery element to the plate, I made a salad of sweet Sungold cherry tomatoes tossed with basil, more pomegranate molasses and a little garlic. The honeyed flavor of the tomatoes and the smokiness from the grill mellowed the pomegranate molasses, bringing out its sweeter side. And a meal of nicely cooked chicken, without any charred or raw spots, did the same thing to me.

Copyright 1995 - . All rights reserved. The content (including but not limited to text, photo, multimedia information, etc) published in this site belongs to China Daily Information Co (CDIC). Without written authorization from CDIC, such content shall not be republished or used in any form. Note: Browsers with 1024*768 or higher resolution are suggested for this site.
License for publishing multimedia online 0108263

Registration Number: 130349