Honey-Glazed Pomegranate Chicken
Pomegranate and honey-glazed chicken. Courtesy of Liz Rueven via The Nosher
(The Nosher/JTA) – Pomegranates, or rimonim in Hebrew, are among the most recognizable and highly symbolic fruits in Jewish culture. Originating in Persia, these reddish, thick-skinned fruits (technically a berry) begin to appear in markets at the end of summer and are readily available for holiday cooking by Rosh Hashanah.
According to Gil Marks in "The Encyclopedia of Jewish Food," the abundance of seeds, nestled into a white membrane and encased in a protective and leathery skin, is associated with the 613 commandments in the Torah. They serve as symbols of righteousness and fruitfulness, as expressed in the Rosh Hashanah expression, “May we be full of merits like the pomegranate (is full of seeds).”
This ancient fruit, prized for its juice and seeds (called arils), is mentioned in the Bible as one of the seven most bountiful agriculture products of ancient Israel. It is associated with fertility and sensuality, and is mentioned six times in the Song of Songs. (More on that here.)
In biblical times, pomegranates were used to add tart flavors to ancient dishes before lemons and tomatoes were discovered. Since then, pomegranates have been used to add unique and complex dimensions to Sephardic and central Asian soups, stews, sauces, chutneys and desserts. They may be juiced, dried, reduced, ground or pressed into pomegranate oil.
Holiday chicken is potent with pomegranates goodness as this symbolic fruit is used in three ways: juice, molasses and arils (seeds). The flavors are bold, tangy and slightly sweet — a Middle Eastern-influenced sweet and sour.
By combining the tart flavors of pomegranates with honey here, the sweetness balances the tang and positive energy is imbued in this main course for Rosh Hashanah.
Note: The simmer sauce may be prepared two to three days ahead and refrigerated until ready to prepare the chicken.
Pomegranates, or rimonim in Hebrew, are one of the most recognizable and highly symbolic fruits in Jewish culture. Courtesy of Liz Rueven via The Nosher