There’s something mysterious about a pomegranate. It looks like an outsize Christmas tree ornament, the pulp is inedible, and the seeds (also called arils) play hard-to-get. But once you’ve savored the juicy-crunchy fruit and sipped the complex juice with its perfect balance of sweetness and tannic acidity, the appeal is obvious, and you’re hooked. Graham Elliot, celebrated chef/restaurateur of Graham Elliot Bistro in Chicago and the just-opened Primary Food & Drink in Greenwich, Connecticut, knows full well the appeal of the ancient red fruit.
“The arils are jewel-like,” Elliot says. “They have that great texture: soft on the outside, and crunchy in the middle. And there’s a ton of flavor that comes out of something that small.”
Elliot likes to use the fruit as a gleaming garnish for salads, and the crimson juice brightens up flavor in a vinaigrette. The juice and arils also combine for a killer sauce for chicken, as in the dish featured here.
“I came up with this dish by thinking of what I’d want to eat on a cold winter night. It’s a comforting dish, and you can be blindfolded and taste it and know exactly what season it is.” The roasted chicken, earthy rice, and peppery turnips are indeed classic comforts, but the sauce—registering on the palate as the pure sweet-tart essence of pomegranate—makes the dish sing.
Try Elliot’s original dish this month at Primary Food & Drink.
Chicken with Turnips and Pomegranate Sauce
Hands-on: 40 min. Total: 1 hr. 15 min.
3 cups unsalted chicken stock (such as Swanson), divided
1 cup uncooked wild rice
1 tablespoon chopped fresh thyme leaves
1¼ teaspoons black pepper, divided
¾ teaspoon kosher salt, divided
1 cup pomegranate juice
½ cup pomegranate arils
2 large turnips, peeled and cut into ¼-inch slices
2 tablespoons olive oil, divided
4 (6-ounce) skinless, boneless chicken breast halves
1. Preheat oven to 400°.
2. Combine 2 cups stock, rice, and thyme in a medium saucepan. Bring to a boil. Cover, reduce heat, and simmer 50 minutes. Drain. Stir in ½ teaspoon pepper and ¼ teaspoon salt.
3. Combine remaining 1 cup stock and juice in a small saucepan. Bring to a boil; reduce heat, and cook 20 minutes or until mixture is reduced to 1/3 cup. Remove from heat; stir in arils.
4. Combine turnips, ¼ teaspoon salt, ½ teaspoon pepper, and 1 tablespoon oil in a bowl; toss to coat. Arrange turnip mixture on a baking sheet. Bake at 400° for 20 minutes or until browned and tender, turning once.
5. Sprinkle remaining ¼ teaspoon salt and ¼ teaspoon pepper over chicken. Heat a large skillet over medium-high heat. Add remaining 1 tablespoon oil to pan; swirl to coat. Add chicken; cook 4 minutes. Turn chicken, and place pan in oven. Bake at 400° for 8 minutes or until chicken is done.
6. Spoon about ½ cup rice onto each of 4 plates. Top evenly with about 1/3 cup turnips and 1 chicken breast half. Drizzle each serving with about 4 teaspoons pomegranate sauce.
CALORIES 489; FAT 11.7g (sat 2g, mono 6.3g, poly 1.7g); PROTEIN 45.1g; CARB 50.6g; FIBER 4.4g; CHOL 109mg; IRON 2.1mg; SODIUM 678mg; CALC 68mg