Pomegranate Chicken

10 September 2023 Dairy Free Gluten Free
This recipe started its life as a marinade for a shoulder of lamb that took centre stage every year at my Rosh Hashanah table alongside my New Year's Chicken. But as our crowd increased and portioning lamb for a significant larger crowd became the thing that sent me over the edge, I started to experiment by using the same marinade on chicken. And it worked a treat.

So whether you are making this for Rosh Hashana, or to celebrate any festive feast or midweek meal for a crowd of any size, these deep jewelled chicken thighs are your friend……they are completely oven to table friendly with no carving, saucing or faffing required. The fresh figs on top are totally optional (and seasonal) and this truly requires nothing more than a little grain, party rice or challah to mop up the sweet and slightly tangy incredibly delicious sauce.

The added bonus is this dish is actually better after it’s had a little time to hang out after cooking. It can be served at room temperature and is also one of those dishes that can be reheated, allowing for full stress free make ahead holiday cooking.

(This was one of the recipes featured on my Rosh Hashanah segment on Channel 4 Sunday Brunch)

This recipe feeds 4 but can easily be easily scaled for a crowd

For the Chicken .

Seeds from 3 cardamom pods

  • 1 tsp coriander  seeds (toasted)
  • 1 tsp cumin seeds (toasted)
  • 6 garlic cloves (1/2 a head)
  • good pinch of salt
  • 1 cinnamon stick
  • 1/2 tsp Aleppo pepper flakes (or 1/4 tsp chili flakes)
  • 3 tbsp pomegranate molasses
  • 3 tbsp honey
  • juice of 1/2 lemon OR 1 tbsp red wine or sherry vinegar
  • 8 chicken thighs 
  • 2 medium red onions, cut into wedges
  • 1 tbsp olive oil
  • 4 large dried figs

Optional Festive Garnish

  • 4 fresh figs (if they are in season)
  • pomegranate seeds
  • chopped parsley
  • rose petals
  • chopped tasted pistachios

Remove the seeds from the cardamom pods and bash in a mortar and pestle.  Lightly toast the coriander and cumin seeds in a dry pan until fragrant and add them to the cardamom pods giving them a few more pounds to break them up.  

Peel the garlic cloves and crush them with a good pinch of salt in the mortar and pestle with the cardamom and fennel seeds until it forms a paste. Stir in the Aleppo pepper (or chili flakes).

Pour over the pomegranate molasses, honey and lemon juice and or vinegar. Mix all the marinade ingredients together.

Cut each onion in half through the root and slice into wedges (keeping the root in tact if possible).  Place the chicken thighs, cinnamon stick and sliced onions in a non reactive dish or a ziplock bag and rub marinade all over. Cover and refrigerate for a good few hours or overnight for up to 24 hours.

Remove the chicken from the fridge at least an hour before you want to cook to bring the meat to room temperature and preheat your oven to 180C. While the oven and chicken come to temperature place your dried figs in a bowl an cover with boiling water to rehydrate them for about 20-30 minutes.  Then drain and cut in half through the stem to expose their insides.

Tip the thighs and all their marinade ingredients into a roasting tin or baking dish where the chicken can sit snugly. Place the fig halves around the chicken pieces, mixing them around in the marinade. If there is a lot of room around the pieces, add a few tablespoons of water to bring the liquid to 1/4 way up the thighs to avoid the marinade burning during cooking.  Drizzle with olive oil and cover the tray tightly with foil (or if your pan has a lid, use that). Roast for 30 minutes and then uncover the thighs, base with some of the juice and cook for another 30 minutes until the skin is deeply golden and crispy, basting again after 15 minutes. If the pan begins to dry out a little, add some water during cooking to loosen the sauce (it will be sticky from the pomegranate molasses and honey).

Allow to rest for a few minutes before serving.  

Have you made this dish?

Let me know what you think, share your efforts and any tweaks you made to the recipe on Instagram, don’t forget to tag #BuildingFeasts or email me on info@buildingfeasts.com