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Gabriela Herman

12.1.17

Chicken Braised with Walnuts and Cranberries

Serves 4 to 6

Cranberries may well be the most traditional of North American foods, but that needn’t mean they can be served only on Thanksgiving. Cranberries are terrific with turkey and also pork, venison, duck, and even chicken. Fesenjan, a dish of poultry simmered in pomegranate and walnut sauce, is the most famous of the Persian kitchen. Here it is reimagined with cranberries. The result is rich and complex, somewhat like a mole sauce, but much easier to make. Like many braises, this one is even better the second day.

  • 2 1/2 cups cranberries
  • 1/3 cup freshly squeezed orange juice
  • About 5 tablespoons neutral oil, such as canola
  • 2 leeks, cleaned and chopped
  • Kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper
  • 2 fresh or canned plum tomatoes, chopped
  • 1 dried chili
  • 2 bay leaves
  • 2 cups walnuts
  • 1 3 1/2- to 4-pound chicken, cut into 10 pieces

1. Combine the cranberries and orange juice in a small pot. Bring to a boil, cover and cook over medium heat until the cranberries soften, about 7 minutes. Stir the mixture, lower the heat, and cook covered until the liquid reduces and a jam forms, about 5 minutes more. Reserve the cranberry jam in the covered pan.

2. Heat about 3 tablespoons of oil in a large Dutch oven or high-sided skillet over medium flame. Add the leeks, season with salt and pepper, and cook, stirring frequently, until the leeks are soft, about 8 minutes. Add the tomato, chili, and bay leaf and cook, stirring occasionally, until the tomatoes release their juices and evaporate, about 5 minutes.

3. Meanwhile, toast the walnuts in a dry skillet over medium heat until they are
fragrant, about 5 minutes. Transfer the nuts to a food processor and pulse until fully ground (this can also be done in a mortar). Add the walnuts to the leek mixture, stir to mix, then add 4 cups of water.

4. Stir the mixture and bring it to a boil over high heat. Reduce the heat, partially cover, and allow the sauce to simmer, stirring every so often. Cook the sauce until it reduces by almost half and the oil rises to the surface, about 1½ hours.

5. Season the chicken pieces with salt and pepper. Heat about 2 tablespoons of oil in a large skillet over medium-high heat, and, working in batches if necessary to avoid crowding the pan, brown the chicken, 4 to 8 minutes per side.

6. Stir the reserved cranberry jam into the walnut sauce. Add a little salt and a lot of pepper and the chicken pieces. Partially cover the pan and simmer over medium-low heat until the chicken is fully tender and the sauce further reduced and thickened, about 1 hour. Taste the sauce and adjust the seasoning as necessary. Serve with basmati rice and an herb salad.

This recipe was originally published with the article, Cranberry's Progress.