If you've ever heard of a little NYC restaurant called Eleven Madison Park, chances are you've also heard about one of its signature dishes: the honey-lavender duck. This roast pomegranate chicken recipe plays on the lacquer techniques and spice rub used to perfect that dish, utilizing pomegranates for seasonality and chicken for accessibility. The chicken is basted with pomegranate molasses, and as it roasts in the oven, the sugars caramelize and the flavors deepen. Then, the lacquered bird gets encrusted with crushed cumin seeds, coriander and black peppercorns.
Notes: The pomegranate molasses may run off the chicken for the first few bastings, but eventually it will stick and the chicken skin will begin to darken. If you notice that the bird is darkening too quickly, lower the heat to 350 degrees and bring the internal temperature to 165 degrees.
Roast Pomegranate Chicken
Recipe from the Tasting Table Test Kitchen
Yield: 4 to 6 servings
Prep Time: 20 minutes, plus resting time
Cook Time: 1 hour and 25 minutes
Total Time: 1 hour and 45 minutes, plus resting time
For the Spice Rub:
1 tablespoon cumin seeds
1 tablespoon coriander seeds
½ tablespoon black peppercorns
½ tablespoon caraway seeds
½ teaspoon cardamom seeds, pods discarded
For the Pomegranate Chicken:
2 sage sprigs
1 garlic clove
1 rosemary sprig
1 thyme sprig
Butcher's twine, for tying
1½ cups pomegranate molasses
Kosher salt, to taste
Pomegranate seeds, for garnish
1. Make the spice rub: In a small sauté pan, heat all of the spices individually until evenly toasted, 2 to 3 minutes each. Allow the spices to completely cool. Grind the spices individually in a mortar and pestle so that no whole seeds remain, but the mixture is still coarse; set aside.
2. Preheat the oven to 400º. Pat the chicken dry and stuff the cavity of the chicken with the sage, lemon, onion, garlic, rosemary and thyme. Tie the drumsticks with butcher's twine and place the chicken on a wire rack-lined sheet pan.
3. Brush the chicken completely with the pomegranate molasses mixture and season with salt. As the chicken roasts, baste it with more pomegranate molasses every 7 to 10 minutes for 1 hour. After 45 mins, cover the chicken completely with the spice mixture and roast in the oven until it reaches 165º, 15 minutes. Allow the chicken to rest for 5 minutes, carve and serve with fresh pomegranate seeds.