This sweet-tart pomegranate molasses glaze is delicious combined with the citrusy sumac spice rub, and gives the roasted chicken a dark, ruby luster. Rub the chicken earlier in the day, or overnight, for the best flavor.
Roast Chicken with Pomegranate Glaze
1 Tablespoon ground sumac (see Tips)
1 Tablespoon kosher salt
1 4-pound chicken
6 cups sliced cored fennel (2-3 large bulbs)
1 large yellow onion, chopped
2 teaspoons extra-virgin olive oil
1/2 cup pomegranate molasses (see Note)
2 Tablespoons honey
1 teaspoon freshly ground pepper
Pomegranate seeds for garnish (see Tips)
Preheat oven to 425°.
Combine sumac and salt in a small bowl. Remove giblets from chicken (if included) and trim any excess skin; pat dry.
Loosen the skin over the breast and thigh meat and rub the spice mixture under the skin plus a little on the skin. Tuck the wings under and tie the legs together with kitchen string, if desired.
Combine fennel and onion in a large roasting pan and toss with oil to coat. Place the chicken, breast-side up, on the vegetables.
Combine pomegranate molasses, honey, and pepper in a small bowl. Transfer half the mixture to a small saucepan and set aside to serve with the chicken.
Roast the chicken and vegetables for 20 minutes. Turn the chicken over, stir the vegetables and cook for 20 minutes more. Turn the chicken over one more time (so it is breast-side up) and stir the vegetables again. Reduce oven temperature to 400°. Brush the chicken all over with the remaining pomegranate mixture, and continue to roast until an instant-read thermometer inserted into a thigh without touching bone reaches 165°, 20 to 30 minutes more.
Transfer the chicken to a clean cutting board and let rest for 10 minutes. Meanwhile, heat the pomegranate glaze in the saucepan over low heat. Remove the string from the chicken, if necessary, and carve the chicken. Serve with the fennel and onion, drizzled with the warm glaze. Sprinkle with pomegranate seeds, if desired.
Tips & Notes:
Make ahead tip: Rub the chicken with the spice mixture (Step 2), cover, and refrigerate for up to 1 day. Let stand at room temperature for about 20 minutes before roasting.
Tips: The tart red berries of the Mediterranean sumac bush add fruity, sour flavor to many regional dishes. Find ground sumac in Middle Eastern markets, specialty food shops and online at penzeys.com. Or use 2 teaspoons freshly grated lemon zest in place of the sumac.
To seed a pomegranate, fill a large bowl with water. Lightly score the fruit into quarters from crown to stem end, cutting through the skin but not into the interior of the fruit. Hold the fruit under water, break it apart and use your hands to gently separate the plump seeds (arils) from the outer skin and white pith. The seeds will drop to the bottom of the bowl and the pith will float to the surface. Discard the pith. Pour the seeds into a colander. Rinse and pat dry. Seeds can be frozen for up to 3 months.
Note: Pomegranate molasses has a bright, tangy flavor. (Don’t confuse it with grenadine syrup, which contains little or no pomegranate juice.) Find it in Middle Eastern markets and some large supermarkets near the vinegar or molasses. To make your own: Simmer 4 cups pomegranate juice, uncovered, in a medium nonreactive saucepan over medium heat until thick enough to coat the back of a spoon, 45 to 50 minutes. (Do not let the syrup reduce too much or it will darken and become very sticky.) Makes about 1/2 cup. Refrigerate in an airtight container for up to 3 months.
MF&L Staff at Maine Food & Lifestyle magazine.