Until sometime last year, I had never used pomegranate molasses in my kitchen. For some reason it sounded too ‘strange’ to me, and it takes me a while to warm up to using an unfamiliar ingredient. Brenda introduced me to it initially, and when we interviewed Bethany of Dirty Kitchen Secrets and Cherine of Chicho’s Kitchen for MidEATS, they both chose to feature recipes with pomegranate molasses; so I figured there must be some magic to pairing pomegranate molasses with meats. So for Thanksgiving last year, I decided to serve my orange-infused, herbed roast turkey with a pomegranate molasses-cranberry dressing (inspired by Tony’s Facebook recipe), and the result was phenomenal (and yes, the recipe for the slow-cooked turkey is long over-due but I promise I’ll post it sometime!) After tasting the turkey — which was delicious — I knew I had to make pomegranate molasses a staple in my fridge.
This recipe for roast chicken with ghee, za’atar and pomegranate molasses is one of the easiest you’ll ever try. If you’ve been following my posts on MidEATS for any length of time, you’ll notice that I have an undeniable love affair with samna baladi (Arabic for farmer’s ghee) … it simply takes every dish up a couple of notches, quite effortlessly! Za’atar, which is a Middle Eastern spice blend of wild thyme, ground sumac and toasted sesame seeds, pairs beautifully with chicken as is; when you also add the tangy-sweet taste of pomegranate molasses to the mix, you get a winning combination. In the future, I hope to mix my own za’atar blend, but I am quite pleased with the flavor of the brand I’m using now — Canaan Fair Trade is a company that helps Palestinian farmers make a fair wage and use traditional, organic farming methods. Their olive oils are also exquisite!
According to Canaan’s website, the thyme is wild-harvested and collected from the hills near Jenin, a certified organic sustainable activity. It is then dried and blended with roasted sesame seeds, ground sumac, and a touch of salt by women-owned cooperatives. It’s a wonderful feeling not only to savor the clean taste of the za’atar, but also to know that the purchase is helping keep hardworking Palestinian farmers employed.
The best thing about this recipe is the fact that it’s so super simple to put together. You literally need just 5 minutes to spice the chicken before it roasts, and voila – dinner is ready! I personally like to boil the chicken first, because I’m a stock-o-holic (I use stock or broth for a lot of my cooking, so I like to make it fresh at least once or twice a week to have a constant supply on hand). But you can certainly just roast the chicken without boiling first; just remember to cook until the internal temperature of the chicken reaches at least 165 F.
I haven’t been able to find ready-bottled organic pomegranate molasses (huge business opportunity if you ask me!), so I settled for the Cortas brand available in most grocery stores and online. I can’t say I trust that the ingredients used are pure, but it’s the best I could find. Of course, I can also make my own pomegranate molasses at home from scratch (yes, totally planning on it when I can find some pomegranates in the grocery store!). I don’t really want to use bottled pomegranate juice to make this at home, because it will probably only be marginally better than the molasses I can already buy. Anyway, if anyone has figured out a way to easily make pomegranate molasses and store it for long periods of time, comment here or email me! Pretty please.
Roast Chicken with Ghee, Za’atar and Pomegranate Molasses
Prep Time: 10 minutes
Cook Time: 45 minutes + 20 minutes for ro
Keywords: roast boil entree chicken gluten-free low-carb nut-free soy-free chicken pomegranate molasses za’atar Middle Eastern fall spring summer winter
To boil the chicken:
- 1 whole organic chicken (preferably also pastured from a local farmer)
- enough filtered water to cover the chicken (I like to use a lot because I use the stock for different dishes throughout the week)
- 1 yellow onion, quartered
- 2-3 crushed bay leaves
- 3-4 cardamom pods, crushed to release flavor
- 1 tablespoon unrefined salt
- 3/4 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
- 1-2 mastic crystals (optional, but adds a nice background flavor)
For the za’atar-pomegranate molasses glaze:
- 3 tablespoons grass-fed ghee, divided
- 4 tablespoons za’atar, divided (you can certainly mix your own, but I used Canaan Fair Trade za’atar, and it was phenomenal)
- 2 tablespoons pomegranate molasses (again, you can easily make your own if you have access to fresh pomegranates/pomegranate juice, but I used the Cortas brand this time)
- 1 teaspoon unrefined salt, divided
- dash freshly ground black pepper
(1) Rinse and salt chicken: First rinse chicken thoroughly under running water, and apply salt generously to skin and rub in. Leave for 10 minutes and then rinse off the salt.
(2) Add to pot with ingredients: I use my stainless steal strainer pot because it is deep, but you can use any pot that would fit the chicken and water without splashing everywhere while it’s boiling. Add filtered water, chicken, onion, mastic crystals, bay leaves, cardamom, salt and pepper.
(3) Cook the chicken: Bring to a boil, then lower heat to medium and simmer for 45 minutes or so. During the first 20 minutes of cooking, remove foamy scum that rises to the top and discard. Use a meat thermometer to make sure the inside of the chicken has cooked and the internal temperature is over 165F.
(4) Preheat the oven and prepare chicken: Preheat the oven to 375F on the broil setting. Meanwhile, take out the chicken from the broth and set on a baking pan. On one side of the chicken, evenly drizzle 1.5 tablespoons of ghee and 1.5 tablespoons of pomegranate molasses to cover as much of the exposed side as possible and evenly sprinkle 2 tablespoons of za’atar, 1/2 teaspoon of salt and a dash of pepper.
(5) Roast in the oven: I prefer to roast the coated side first before flipping to add the glaze, so that it roasts evenly and the spices stay put when I flip the chicken. Roast one side for 10 minutes or so, then take out of the oven to glaze the other side. Flip the chicken, and repeat the same step as above with the same ingredients and measurements for the glaze. Place back in the oven to roast for another 10-15 minutes until golden brown. I like to spoon some of the melted ghee that has settled on the bottom on top of the chicken before serving hot, next to roasted vegetables or a creamy soup! Enjoy.