Thursday dinner: Poached chicken with orzo and pomegranate

The concept of a pomegranate is nice. Think about it…a superfood that is a sweet, tangy fruit, loaded with mysterious antioxidants that cure cancer, prevent Alzheimer’s and bring us peace in our time.

The reality is that pomegranates suck. Forget about the half hour it took to peel the damn seeds out of the fruit after soaking for the previous hour. It was the 20 minutes of seek-and-destroy, rooting around the kitchen for red juice stains and seeds that managed to fly six or seven feet from where I was working. Just when I thought I was finished, The Wife would chime in with, “Jared, there’s pomegranate everywhere.”

Take the pomegranates out of the picture and this is a relatively effortless and quick meal to assemble. From prep to plate, it took about 40 minutes.

What worked: My changes. The Wife and I don’t eat a lot of maple syrup (actually, we never eat it), so I couldn’t see buying some for this recipe. I used an equal measure of honey in its stead. And, the cilantro at Wegmans was nonexistent this weekend. There just wasn’t any on the shelf. I opted for a teaspoon of Goya Recaito, a cooking base with green peppers, onion and cilantro.

What didn’t: The pomegranates. I soaked and peeled the fruit last night and found more juice that I missed today.

Will it make another appearance: I doubt it. The Wife couldn’t get enough of it, but unless I can come up with a better way to peel the fruit, this one is out.

Poached chicken with orzo and pomegranate

  • 1 tablespoon olive oil
  • 1/2 cup small-dice red onion
  • 3 garlic cloves, finely chopped
  • 2 teaspoons ground coriander
  • Kosher salt
  • Freshly ground black pepper
  • 2 cups water
  • 2 boneless, skinless chicken breasts
  • 1 cup orzo
  • 2 teaspoons maple syrup
  • 4 teaspoons white wine vinegar
  • 1/4 cup finely chopped fresh cilantro
  • 1 cup fresh pomegranate seeds

Heat the olive oil a medium frying pan over medium heat. When it shimmers, add the onion, garlic, and coriander, then season with salt and pepper to taste. Cook until the vegetables are softened, about 3 minutes.

Add the water and chicken, reduce the heat to medium low, cover, and simmer, turning the chicken once, until the chicken is cooked through, about 25 minutes. Remove the chicken to a cutting board and set aside until cool enough to handle, then shred into bite-sized pieces.

Meanwhile, add the orzo to the poaching liquid and simmer, stirring occasionally, until the pasta is al dente and all the liquid has been absorbed, about 10 to 15 minutes. Remove the orzo to a large, nonreactive bowl and stir in the maple syrup, vinegar, cilantro, pomegranate seeds, and shredded chicken. Season with salt and pepper to taste.

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