Poultry Perfection

Persian Quail with Pomegranate Walnut Sauce (Fesenjan)

November 24, 2020
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Sweet, tart, earthy and rich, this beautiful celebratory Persian dish originated thousands of years ago in the Iranian province of Gilan on the Caspian Sea. You may have seen fesenjan served as a chicken stew, but here, I’ve elevated the dish by serving the sauce with honey-and-spice-glazed grilled quail–a gorgeous presentation for fall and winter feasts. If you prefer? Swap out the quail for grilled bone-in chicken.

A few notes on the recipe: Pomegranate walnut sauce features pomegranate molasses, a tart, thick syrup you’ll find at Middle Eastern grocery stores or, those more-broadly specializing in ethnic ingredients. There you will also find the pomegranates, pomegranate juice, and spices in the recipe. For the walnuts, removing the pellicle–the tannin-laden membrane covering the meat of each nut, yields a more mellow nut flavor. So easy to do: You just rub the walnuts in clean kitchen towels after toasting and the membrane comes right off. (I also do this now to mellow-out walnuts that go into cookies and baked goods.) For the chicken stock, use low-sodium because the flavors intensify over an hour of simmering and you don’t want the result to be over-salted.

For local access to fresh quail visit a live-poultry purveyor. Or, easier still: Go on-line to N.J.-based D’Artagnan, which will ship fresh, free-range quail overnight.

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