This aromatic Instant Pot fesenjan, or Persian pomegranate chicken, is packed with flavor thanks to pomegranate molasses, toasted walnuts, and spices, and will warm you right up on a winter’s night!
Here it is: the first new recipe of 2018! This sweet and nutty Instant Pot fesenjan has already become a big hit over here, receiving rave reviews from both my husband and my mother, who came to stay with us for a week around Christmas.
I want to share a bit about my year here, but if you’re hungry, feel free to scroll right down to the recipe details!
The biggest highlight of 2017 was of course getting married–Ben and I had such an amazing time at our wedding, and we got to see so many family members and friends that we hadn’t seen in a long time. Even though we’ve been married for almost four months now, I still haven’t had a chance to put together a post about our wedding, but plan to do so soon! I can’t wait to share all the details with you.
I did a lot more freelance photography work this past year–that, coupled with planning our wedding, led to my longest blogging hiatus ever since starting A Calculated Whisk in 2013. The biggest and most exciting job was photographing a print cookbook for Page Street Publishing: Weeknight Cooking with Your Instant Pot by Kristy Bernardo. The book comes out next month and is available for pre-order now! It’s not a paleo or gluten-free cookbook, but if you’re a total Instant Pot fanatic like me, you’ll still love the book and will find lots of recipes that are paleo-friendly or easy to adapt.
I developed and photographed a series of paleo recipes for Gluten-Free on a Shoestring (meatballs, pizza, granola, and lasagna), shot photos for product packaging and advertising for the first time, did a restaurant shoot at Easy Bistro, helped Lindsey, Liza, and friends with a styled bridal shoot, started doing food styling and photography for Wholefully, and helped out at a food photography and styling workshop in Beersheeba Springs. To make time for my photography and styling I reduced my hours at my day job a bit, but am still doing speech therapy 25-30 hours a week. Needless to say, it was quite a busy year!
I didn’t manage to travel at all outside the U.S., but I visited a friend in Miami (and got to see so many alligators), went home to Massachusetts three short times for weddings and other events, and spent some time in the beautiful mountains of North Georgia. Another highlight was the mornings I spent at Big Sycamore Farm working in exchange for my CSA vegetables–I can’t wait for my farm work to start up again in spring!
This year, my goal is to slow down a bit and focus on taking care of myself, my family, and my space. I’m still hoping to do a good amount of freelance work, but also want to make sure I’m sharing plenty of recipes here–my goal is two posts a week. I’m prioritizing exercising, sleeping, and eating well over everything else, though, in part because it’s the best way to stay healthy all the time and in part because we’re hoping to have a baby within the next year or two (eek!).
Back to this Instant Pot fesenjan–it’s unique and addictive, and I hope you’ll add it to your Instant Pot rotation. Finely ground walnuts lend body and richness to the sauce, and pomegranate molasses adds layers of sweet, sour, and fruity flavor. The resulting dish is like nothing else you’ve ever tasted. With crunchy pomegranate arils and bright cilantro on top, this really can’t be beat! I hope you give this Persian pomegranate chicken a try very soon. Happy 2018!
- 6 ounces walnut halves (about 1⅔ cups)
- 1 tablespoon ghee or avocado oil
- 2 pounds boneless, skinless chicken thighs, cut in half
- 1 teaspoon sea salt
- Freshly ground black pepper
- 2 shallots or 1 small onion, chopped (about ¾ cup)
- 1 teaspoon ground turmeric
- ¼ teaspoon ground cinnamon
- ¼ teaspoon ground cardamom
- 1 cup chicken stock (I prefer homemade or Pacific Foods Bone Broth)
- ⅓ cup pomegranate molasses*
- 2 tablespoons honey**
- ½ cup pomegranate arils, for serving
- ¼ cup chopped fresh cilantro, for serving
- Preheat the oven to 350°F and spread the walnuts out on a sheet pan. Toast for 6-8 minutes, or until the nuts smell toasty and are darker brown, shaking the pan once or twice. Transfer to a plate to cool.
- Push the "Sauté" button on a 6-quart Instant Pot***, making sure the heat level is set to "Normal". Season the chicken thigh pieces with the sea salt and a few grinds of black pepper. When the Instant Pot is hot, add the ghee. Once the fat is shimmering, add about half the chicken pieces (or as many fit in a single layer) and brown for 3-4 minutes per side. Do not worry if little pieces of chicken become stuck to the bottom of the pot--these browned bits will help add flavor to the stew. Transfer the browned chicken to a plate and repeat with the remaining pieces.
- Add the shallot and sauté, stirring frequently, until beginning to brown. Add the turmeric, cinnamon, and cardamom and stir for about a minute, until very fragrant. Pour in the chicken stock, pomegranate molasses, honey, and ground walnuts and stir well, scraping the bottom of the pot to dislodge and mix in any browned bits that were stuck.
- Press "Keep Warm/Cancel" and add the browned chicken back to the pot, discarding any juices that accumulated on the plate.
- Put the lid on the Instant Pot and make sure the valve is set to "Sealing". Push the "Poultry" button (once the Instant Pot reaches high pressure, it will cook for 15 minutes).
- When the time is up, press "Keep Warm/Cancel" to turn off the IP. Let the pressure release naturally, or wait at least 10 minutes and then do a manual pressure release by carefully turning the valve to "Venting".
- If you prefer a thicker sauce, push "Sauté". Use a slotted spoon to transfer the chicken pieces to a bowl. Allow the sauce to bubble away for about 5 minutes, until thickened, then press "Keep Warm/Cancel" and stir the chicken back in.
- Serve hot with rice or cauliflower rice, topped with pomegranate arils and fresh cilantro.
**For Whole30, you could try omitting the honey or using applesauce or apple juice instead.
***I have not tested this recipe in an 8-quart Instant Pot, but reader feedback indicates the larger model likely requires more liquid. Consider increasing the chicken stock to 2 cups.
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