Chicken, Quick Meals

Chicken, via the Mediterranean.

The first time I tasted pomegranate molasses, my best friend in law school – a tremendous cook – had brushed it on some halved peaches and grilled them based on a recipe in one of the Chris Schlesinger cookbooks.  The grilling brought out the juice in the peaches and caramelized the pomegranate molasses, yielding a sweet and tart sticky glaze.  When I left Minneapolis in ’97, one of her going-away gifts to me was a bottle of the stuff.  Gluttony has its rewards.

Pomegranate molasses is not a true molasses – it is reduced pomegranate juice.  The taste is reminiscent of caramel, balsamic vinegar, and lemon juice.  You can use it as an ingredient in glazes for grilling, but I think it is best as a condiment added after cooking, as in this chicken dish from last night.  Increasingly, you can buy it at regular grocery stores, but if not, Whole Foods and any market supplying Middle Eastern foods will carry it.   Sumac is available at Middle Eastern groceries or online via Penzey’s or the Spice House.

Note: the fried cauliflower and labneh are a shout out to Michael Solomonov’s fabulous Philadelphia restaurant, Zahav.


Fried cauliflower, labneh, dill.

Again, for a quick meal, break down the chicken rather than roasting it whole, because the parts will cook within 30 minutes.  Meanwhile, as the chicken roasts and then rests, assemble the labneh and fry the cauliflower.

1 chicken, broken down, breasts and leg/thigh quarters only
1 tsp kosher salt
1/4 tsp pimenton (smoked spanish paprika)
1/2 tsp ground sumac (if unavailable, substitute 1 tsp lemon juice)

3 tbsp pomegranate molasses

1 small head frisee, washed, dried, and chopped (1″)

1 red onion, sliced thinly
1 tbsp olive oil
1/2 tsp ground sumac (if unavailable, substitute 1 tsp lemon juice)

Fried cauliflower:

1 cauliflower, washed well, florets cut off
2 c olive oil
1 c labneh (or strained greek yoghurt, like Fage)
1 tbsp dill, fronds only, minced
1 tbsp mint leaves, chiffonade
1 clove garlic, minced
Juice of 1/2 lemon and salt
Chicken: 40 minutes

Oven 350F

Cut the leg-thigh joint (do not cut through meat).  Combine salt, pimenton, and sumac.  Gently lift the skin on the chicken but do not remove; rub the mixture under the skin and season the reverse (skinless) side.

Place a skillet over medium-high heat.  Add a small amount of olive oil when hot.  Add chicken, skin side down.  Baste meat as fat melts.  Turn chicken over, baste again, and place in oven.  Roast, basting twice, for 20 minutes.  Test for doneness (165F).  Remove and rest.  Immediately before serving, return to pan skin-side up and baste skin with rendered chicken fat/olive oil.  Place under broiler and heat to crisp skin. 

Serve, drizzled with pomegranate molasses,  with sumac-dusted onions (below) and frisee.  For a more substantial meal, serve with steamed basmati rice instead of the frisee.

Sumac dusted onions: 10 minutes

Prepare while chicken roasts.  Place a skillet over medium-high heat; add a small quantity of oil when hot.  Add the sliced onion and saute, stirring occasionally to prevent burning, until tender and caramelized in parts.  Season with salt and sumac.  Set aside.

Cauliflower: 30 minutes

Prepare while chicken roasts and rests.  Slice the cauliflower florets thinly (1/4″).   Combine all the remaining ingredients except the olive oil.  Prepare a pan or large plate with several layers of paper towels.

In a saucepot, heat the oil to 350F.    When hot, add the cauliflower in batches (no deeper than a single layer per batch), using a slotted spoon or wire skimmer.  Turn once as the florets turn golden.  When totally golden, remove with the skimmer and drain on paper towels.   Repeat batches.  Season with sea salt.

Spoon the herbed labneh into a shallow plate.  Arrange the cauliflower on top.  Snip chives or fresh dill over all.


Pan-roasted chicken, onions, pomegranate molasses