The Many Uses of Pomegranate Juice
"Its a fun thing to do but its a messy proposition," notes Robert Wemischner, a Los Angeles culinary arts teacher, cookbook author and regular In Season commentator on seasonal produce. Wemischners advice: Do it over a sink. "Its a labor-intensive eating process that is repaid with wonderful flavor."
The jewel-like seeds can also be sprinkled decoratively over mousse or other desserts or salads. But alas, "the presentation is beautiful but the eating is not so delicate in a fancy setting because you have to spit out the seeds."
Theres another way to capture that flavor: Roll the pomegranates over a countertop in every direction to loosen up the juice, make a small hole in the skin and squeeze the fruit over a bowl. "Because youre squeezing some of the thicker pith beneath the fruit, you do get a bit of the tannic quality of the fruit," which isnt bad if its not too strong, Wemischner says.
From six nice-sized pomegranates, you can expect to get about three cups of juice, he says. Its perishable. So drink it within hours, either straight or mixed with other fruit juices that it complements, such as apple or cherry. "I like to add as little sugar as possible, if I drink it straight. But the sugar does tend to round out the flavor a bit," he says.
Dont drink all that juice, though. Save some of it for other uses.
With pomegranate juice, "you can make an excellent sorbet, or for lack of a better word granita," says Wemischner "Sorbet tends to be sweeter and creamer in texture than what youll get from pomegranate juice. Because of the lower sugar content, its going to be icy."
First, make a simple syrup with equal parts water and sugar boiled until clear. Then add pomegranate juice until the flavor reaches the threshold between sweet and tart that suits your taste.
Then, put the mixture in nonreactive bowl that will quickly conduct heat, such as stainless steel, glass or porcelain.
Lacking something more high tech like an ice cream or sorbet machine, whisk it every half hour to break up the ice with a whisk or spoon until it is frozen.
Boil the juice down in a heavy-gauged saucepan until it is a thick maple-syrup consistency and youll end up with a unique, intense flavoring for any number of vegetable and meat stews.
The tart pomegranate flavor goes well with lamb, chicken, beef or turkey and any of a variety of fall and winter root vegetables and squashes, along with the usual stew ingredients such as garlic and onions, with or without tomato, says Wemischner.
Continuing cooking the syrup until it reaches molasses consistency and youre creating one of the most distinctive ingredients of Persian cuisine: pomegranate molasses.
The bottled product is readily available in ethnic food markets serving a Middle Eastern clientele and Wemischner pronounces it "excellent stuff." But in the fall, when pomegranates are in season, he still makes his own. "The freshness is incomparable," he says. "And its fun."
Wemischner, a big tea fan, uses some of the molasses to flavor black tea. He also uses it in a number of savory dishes, some a variation on the Persian "fesenjan" -- using ground walnuts and pomegranate molasses as a sauce for chicken or turkey -- and other original creations, such as the following two recipes from his first book, The Vivid Flavors Cookbook.
The recipe for sweet and sour greens was inspired, he writes, by a vague memory of have once eaten creamed spinach pureed with pears instead of cream. It is a recipe for those who are "tempted by tartness rather than seduced by sweetness," he writes.
Wemischner calls the fesenjan recipe "a seductive and complex combination of sweet and sour." It is a variation on a classical Persian dish that makes use of two plentiful crops in northern Iran: pomegranates and walnuts. Both crops are in season in the autumn in North America. Instead of the traditional chicken or duck, Wemischner uses turkey breast, a lean white meat that pairs well with the rich walnut sauce.
assorted bitter greens, including
collards, mustard greens, kale, etc.
2. Make the cooking syrup for the quince by combining the sugar, water, and spices in a small saucepan. Bring to a boil, add the quince, reduce to a simmer, and cook over low heat, for about 12-15 minutes, or until the quince is tender but not mushy. (Quince is actually quite forgiving of overcooking.) When done, remove the quince, cut into ½ inch cubes, and mound in the center of a heated serving platter. Keep warm, covered, in a 200 degree oven. Sieve the syrup, discarding the solids, and set aside.
3. Heat the oil in a heavy skillet until hot. Reduce the heat to medium and add the garlic and shallots. Cook stirring constantly for about 2 minutes or until they are tender, but not browned. Add the greens, and cook stirring until they are just wilted but bright green, about 2 minutes. Remove the platter from the oven and arrange the greens over the quince.
4. Add the pomegranate concentrate and the vinegar to the quince syrup and boil until the liquid lightly coats a spoon. In a small saute pan coated with a film of oil, stir-fry the pepper just until slightly wilted. Pour the sauce over the greens and garnish with the red pepper shreds.
tbs vegetable oil
lbs. boneless turkey breast,
sliced into cutlets and slightly
cup basmati rice
rounds of pita bread, cut into 6
triangles each, toasted until
2. To prepare the turkey, bring water, onion, and turmeric to a boil in a skillet large enough to hold the cutlets in a single layer. Add cutlets,. cover, lower heat to a simmer and cook for about 6-8 minutes, or until done. Do not overcook. Set aside. Add salt and pepper to taste and keep covered and warm in a 200 degree oven.
3. Cook the rice in a covered 2-quart saucepan over medium heat with the water, salt, bay leaf, and lemon peel for about 20-25 minutes, or until tender and all the liquid is absorbed. Keep warm until serving. Remove bay leaf and lemon peel and fluff rice with a fork before serving.
4. To serve, place a mound of rice on each plate, top with a warm turkey cutlet, and sauce generously. Garnish with toasted pita triangles, and fresh pomegranate wedges if desired.
Copyright 2005 Seasonal Chef