Thursday, February 13, 2014

NEW RECIPE: Pomegranate Roasted Chicken with Arugula-Asparagus Orzo (Valentine's Day Special)

© Constantine William Spyrou

Valentine's Day is tomorrow! For me, this means nothing. But for a lot of you, this could be your day to really impress your significant other. Whether you take them out to a fancy restaurant or to a concert or something extremely classy, tomorrow is going to be a day to show off. If you're just doing a romantic dinner at home, this could be a great way to show off as well!

This is a Middle Eastern classic dish: Pomegranate Roasted Chicken. It goes extremely well with Valentine's Day in my opinion because of the vibrant colors (especially red) and the fact that a lot of the foods in it are aphrodisiacs. Regardless, pomegranate and chicken is a great combination, especially when the chicken is glazed with the pomegranate and just takes on an amazing flavor. Served with a peppery arugula and asparagus orzo to get a great balance of texture, this will be a great dish to serve tomorrow! I guarantee it!

Recipe serves up to 4 people. (Yay leftovers!)

For the Orzo:

1 package orzo
Salt and pepper to season
2 tablespoons olive oil
Zest and juice of 1 lemon
1 cup wild arugula, roughly chopped
1/2 bunch trimmed thin asparagus spears
2 cloves minced garlic
1/4 cup fresh chopped parsley and basil

For the Chicken:

4 small red chiles (chile de arbol or cayenne/birds-eye chilies work great), roughly chopped
2 tablespoons butter
1 roasting chicken, about 3 pounds
1 clove minced garlic
2 teaspoons sumac
1/2 bulb fennel
1 onion, roughly sliced
2 cups pomegranate juice
1/4 cup sugar
Salt and pepper to season


1. Preheat the oven to 425 degrees Fahrenheit.
2. Combine together the chili, garlic, butter, sumac, and some salt and pepper to make a butter for the inside of the chicken. Form into a ball
3. Separate the skin of the chicken lightly (it can separate and come back naturally, don't rip it!), and place the butter into the chicken on top of the breast. Put the skin back, then push the butter into the breast and massage it throughout the entirety of the chicken.
4. Season the inside cavity of the chicken (use extra large shards of black pepper), and pour in about 1/2 a cup of the pomegranate juice. Fill the cavity with the fennel bulb.
5. Coat the sliced onions in some olive oil, then lay them into the bottom of the roasting tray to make a bed for the chicken. Roast in the oven for about 45 minutes, turning once. Turn the oven down to 400 degrees, and roast for another 25-30 minutes.
6. While the chicken is roasting, blanch your asparagus in seasoned boiling water, then chop into quarters. Saute with garlic and olive oil, then set the asparagus aside.
7. Cook your orzo according to package instructions. Once cooked, combine together all of the ingredients for the orzo and set aside to cool.
8. In a saucepan, add your pomegranate juice and sugar. Bring to a boil, and cook the pomegranate juice down to a syrup consistency to make a nice glaze.
9. Once the chicken comes out of the oven, let it rest for at least 10 minutes. Take out the fennel bulb from the chicken. If you want, serve the fennel and onion with the chicken. Carve it into quarters, then serve with the pomegranate glaze over the skin and orzo on the side.

This packs a ton of flavor into one dish! With heat balance from the chili, sweetness of the pomegranate syrup, and citrus notes of the sumac, the chicken gets a great balance of flavor. The anise-like notes of the fennel and the freshness of the arugula in the orzo helps to take that balance to a whole new level. This overall gives a cascading orchestra of flavors that will impress whoever tries it!

I hope you enjoyed this recipe! Let me know what you think and what you would change. If you make it at home, let me know how it turns out! Enjoy! =)