Tuesday, March 20, 2012

Pomegranate Fig Chicken and Rice

Pomegranate as a super fruit isn't new news. It's been promoted vigorously as a good source of many nutrients for the past several years. Of course, it's also good for the heart. This tart super fruit is full of powerful, heart protecting ingredients. Anthocyanins are antioxidant pigments which may fortify capillaries, prevent oxidation of LDL cholesterol, and help protect against heart disease. Catechins may defend the heart against free radicals. The fiber, soluble and insoluble, helps lower cholesterol. Potassium is linked to lower blood pressure, and may reduce heart disease risk as well.
 I've never really had much of a taste for it. Mostly because it's so tart and it's most often used in sweet, fruity types of things. I've always had trouble with tart fruits. When I was a kid I used to stir sugar into my orange juice when my mom wasn't looking. And I still didn't like it. I also once piled so much sugar onto a grapefruit, in an attempt to make it edible, that I actually managed to make it so sugary that I couldn't stomach it. Considering the sweet tooth of a six year old, that's a lot of sugar. Anyway, let's just say, I like my fruit sweet. But, pomegranate is on my heart list, and when I ran across a recipe for pomegranate molasses (essentially pomegranate juice sweetened just a bit and cooked down into a syrup), I finally thought I might have found a way to enjoy it. 


I thought it would be tasty with chicken and rice, so that's what I set out to do. I cooked up my molasses, made a quick marinade/sauce, marinated and broiled my chicken (broiling makes for such tender chicken, and it's quick!), and even added some sauce to the rice cooker. Success! The result was a fruity, tangy, and slightly sweet sauce over tender chicken and faintly purple rice. I paired it with a simply spinach salad, and it was delightful. Simple, tasty, healthy, and budget friendly. Definitely going into the monthly dinner rotation!

Pomegranate Fig Chicken and Rice

For the Sauce:
1/2 cup pomegranate juice
1-2 Tbs sugar
1/2 tsp lemon juice
2 Tbs fig jam
2 Tbs dijon mustard
1/4 tsp salt
2 Tbs balsamic vinegar
Honey, as needed

First, make your pomegranate molassas by gently simmering the pomegranate juice, sugar, and lemon juice over medium heat. Simmer until the juice thickens into a nicely reduced syrup.  Remove from heat, then add the fig jam, dijon mustard, salt, and balsamic vinegar. Whisk to combine. Taste, and add honey or more fig jam if needed for added sweetness.

For the Chicken and Rice:

4-5 chicken tenders, cubed
2 cups cooked rice 

Marinate the chicken with half the sauce, for at least three to four hours. Cook the rice as desired (I use a rice cooker and mix in a few tablespoons of sauce. You could also stir this in after it's cooked.) Put the chicken in a cast iron skillet (or other broiling pan), making sure there is room to spread out. Broil for around seven or ten minutes, watching carefully, or until the chicken is cooked through and sauce is slightly caramelized. Serve over rice and spoon the remaining sauce over the top. 

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