Sticky, tart, sweet, fiery Pomegranate Molasses Chicken! That’s what’s for dinner tonight. I came across a recipe for chicken wings that was meant as a snack to be munched during the Super Bowl. However, neither my husband nor I is a sport’s fan and we rarely eat such a filling appetizer. We are far more likely to have salads or a cup of soup – maybe a dip – if we have anything at all. But I thought that if I serve these with dilled basmati rice and some side salads, it could be our dinner. And wow! was I right.
I made a few changes both in ingredients and method from the original recipe and realized that this marvelous glaze would work with any cut of chicken. Wings are shown here, and we thought they made a satisfying, relatively inexpensive dinner for us. But we also no longer eat a great deal of meat. If you have teenagers, you definitely will need to choose another cut of chicken!
More meat bang would come from chicken drumsticks or thighs. Breast meat could be used but it tends to dry out and isn’t as flavorful as the darker meat. When choosing your chicken pieces, you definitely want meat on the bone and with the skin.
Depending on the cut of chicken that you use and your individual oven, the cooking time may vary. But you’ll know when it’s done. The original recipe called for 2 pounds of wings, which is what I used. My wings were on the bigger size so it turned out to be 8 wings. My husband and I were satisfied with three wings each for dinner and I ate leftovers for lunch the following day. However, the glaze easily could have worked with 3 pounds of chicken, in my opinion. Since the chicken is cooked before applying the glaze, any excess can be saved in the fridge for up to a week if you go with the lesser amount.
Pomegranate Molasses is not really a molasses at all. It is pomegranate juice that has been reduced down to a syrup. These days, it can often be found in regular supermarkets, but it is also readily available online and in Middle Eastern Grocery stores. I can’t get enough of its fruity, tartness and use it drizzled over salads and roasted veggies. Try it the next time you roast carrots or sweet potatoes! It’s also great over pound cake with berries. I’m just sayin’.
The chicken in Pomegranate Molasses Chicken first gets a dry rub and rests in the fridge. This can be quickly thrown together in the morning or the night before. Just pull your chicken out of the fridge an hour before cooking. Serve it with dilled basmati rice as I did or with any grain of your choice. Couscous, freekeh, farro, bulghur or millet would also be great choices. However, you decide to serve this yummy chicken, get ready to get sticky!
And please use fresh spices for this. If you are going with 3 pounds of chicken, use rounded or generous measurements for the dry rub. The sauce should be fine as is.
Yield: 4 as part of a dinner or 8 as a nosh
For the dry rub:
2 to 3 pounds of chicken wings, drumsticks or thighs – bone-in, skin on
1 Tablespoon kosher salt
1 Tablespoon ground coriander
1 Tablespoon ground cumin
1 teaspoon ground black pepper
3/4 teaspoon ground cardamom
3/4 teaspoon ground allspice
For the glaze:
a generous 1/3 cup of pomegranate molasses
1 large clove of garlic, peeled and crushed
4 tablespoons agave or maple syrup
2 rounded Tablespoons of red harissa
1 Tablespoon of canola, safflower or coconut oil
kosher salt and fresh cracked black pepper, to taste
2 Tablespoons unsalted butter or good quality vegan “butter”
Mix your dry rub ingredients in a small bowl. It will look like a lot of spice, but trust me, it’s the right amount.
Place the chicken (pat it dry if it seems to have a lot of moisture) in a glass or stainless bowl or freezer bag. (I chose to cut off the the tip of the wing. There is no meat there and it didn’t seem necessary to me. That was a personal choice.) Pour the dry rub mix over the chicken pieces and move the chicken around to coat them well. Cover and refrigerate for a minimum of one hour or up to overnight.
Remove the chicken from the fridge one hour before cooking. Preheat the oven to 400 degrees F.
You can prepare the glaze while you wait for the chicken to come to room temperature. The glaze can also be made ahead and warmed up when you are ready to use it.
To make the glaze, place all of the ingredients, except for the butter, in a small pot. Heat on medium until the sauce begins to simmer. Allow it to cook for about 10 minutes, stirring occasionally. Once it has thickened, add the butter and turn off the heat. Stir through and taste the glaze. Add salt and pepper to your taste (I did not use more than 1/2 teaspoon of salt in total in the glaze since the dry rub is salty enough for me). You can also adjust the heat or sweetness by adding more harissa or agave. The amounts given were perfect for us. Set the glaze aside.
Place a wire cooling rack on top of a half sheet pan with rimmed sides. Spray the rack with a vegetable spray like PAM or lightly coat with canola or safflower oil. Place the chicken wings on top of the rack leaving about an inch or two in between pieces. It doesn’t really matter which side is facing down at this point because you will be turning the chicken a couple of times.
Place the chicken in the oven on a middle/upper rack. Cook for 15 minutes and then turn the chicken pieces over. Cook for another 10 minutes.
Now brush some of the glaze to coat over one side of the chicken. Place it back in the oven for 5 to 8 minutes. Turn the chicken over and glaze this side. Return it to the oven. Repeat the coating steps one more time. When your chicken looks gorgeously glazed and smells amazing, it’s done.