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Pomegranate Chicken Filled with Fruity Wild Rice


Every single time I serve this dish, the compliments come pouring in. It’s a true delight for the senses: It looks absolutely beautiful with its deeply saturated brown exterior and colorful medley of rice, smells heavenly, and the best part is the moist and tender meat.   The key ingredient is the tart pomegranate molasses, which provides a perfect contrast to the sweet dried fruit and honey. Pomegranate molasses is typically used in Middle Eastern cooking, especially in Persian recipes. It’s made of pomegranate juice that has been reduced to a thick syrup, with or without sugar. Either way, it packs a tart, refreshing flavor.


Prepare the Stuffing

1. To prepare the stuffing, heat the olive oil in a large saucepan over a medium flame. Add the onions and celery and cook for four to five minutes, until translucent.
2. Add the rice and boiling water and bring to a boil. Season with the salt, cover, and reduce heat to low. Simmer for 40 to 45 minutes, until the water is absorbed.
3. Once the rice is cooked, remove from heat and mix in the almonds, cranberries, apricots, pistachios, and orange zest. Set aside to cool.


You can even use leftover rice for this dish. Simply sauté the onion and celery until translucent, then mix it into 3 cups cooked rice. Add the other ingredients and proceed as directed.

For the Chicken

1. Preheat oven to 400°F.
2. Place the chickens in a large roasting pan, season generously with salt and pepper, and slowly stuff each cavity with the rice mixture. (I find that I can fit more stuffing in when I work more slowly.)
3. Tie the legs with kitchen twine.
4. Pour the honey and pomegranate molasses over the chicken and massage into the skin.
5. Transfer the remaining rice to a cooking bag and add one cup water. Seal the bag and poke one or two holes to let out the air.
6. Place the bag in the roasting pan next to the chickens. Bake uncovered at 400°F for 45 minutes (the top should be nicely browned).
7. Reduce heat to 350°F, cover, and bake for an additional two and a half to three hours.
8. Carve the chickens and serve alongside the rice.