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Slow cooker chicken with walnuts and pomegranate

5 votes, average: 4.40 out of 55 votes, average: 4.40 out of 55 votes, average: 4.40 out of 55 votes, average: 4.40 out of 55 votes, average: 4.40 out of 5

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SKILL LEVEL :
Easy but takes some time

Inspired by a medieval Persian duck, pomegranate and walnut stew

The inspiration for this slow cooker chicken comes from an ancient Persian stew called Fesenjoon that was originally made from wild duck. Traditionally the duck is slowly simmered in a sauce made from toasted ground walnuts and pomegranate molasses. It is an incredibly flavorful slow cooker chicken stew that balances sweet, sour and savory.

My interpretation uses chicken and a slow-cooker

My version uses skin-on, bone-in chicken thighs and I cook it in a slow cooker. I also add a few nontraditional ingredients, including rosemary, whole garlic cloves and carrots. My version is less of a stew and more of a fork-tender chicken dish with an abundance of delicious sauce.

Pomegranates and pomegranate molasses

One of the treats of the fall season are big juicy pomegranates with their jewel-like seeds. I use pomegranate seeds to garnish almost everything: meat, salads, dips and vegetables. You name it and there is a good chance it is better with pomegranate seeds.

 

Pomegranate molasses is a wonderful sweet-sour ingredient made from reduced pomegranate juice. I use it in sauces, dressings and cocktails. See my post on pomegranates for everything you need to know about this delicious fruit, including nutrition, health benefits, the best way to remove the seeds and how to store.

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Slow cookers

Slow cookers have generally not been my thing, but I am trying to change that. The concept of throwing ingredients into a pot and returning hours later to a wonderful meal is so enticing and practical that I really want to crack the slow cooker code.

 

My biggest concern with many slow cooker recipes is that everything is thrown in the pot without sautéing the aromatics (onions, garlic, carrots, celery, peppers) or searing the meat, two crucial steps in building flavor.

 

My other problem is that many slow cookers are tiny, and I am a believer in cooking up a big batch and freezing half for a future meal.

 

So to address my concerns, I invested in this large 6-quart, 3-in-1 slow cooker. You can sear and saute in this slow cooker and it is big enough to cook up a couple meals at once.

Slow Cooker | Something New For Dinner

I have written the recipe assuming most people's slow cookers do not have the ability to saute and sear. If that is the case, you will require an extra skillet. If, however, you have the good fortune to have a 3-in-1 slow cooker, you can do everything in this one pot.

Time savers

Nuts

Toasting the walnuts is an important step in building the flavor of this dish. Walnuts and for that matter, all nuts are better after they have been toasted. When I buy a bag of nuts, I toast the whole bag and store them in the freezer, so I have a stash of toasted nuts whenever I need them. Freezing also extends the shelf life of nuts.

Food processors are your friend

I use a food processor to chop the onions and grind the walnuts. Food processors are incredible time savers for a recipe like this.

Make-ahead

This slow cooker chicken can be made in advance and served the next day. In fact, it may be better on the second day after the flavors have had a chance to meld.

Add veggies for a one-dish meal

I use carrots in this dish, but you can also add butternut squash, mushrooms or potatoes to make this a one-pot-meal. Simply add them to the slow cooker for the last hour.

Slow cooker chicken with walnuts and pomegranate

Prep

Cook

Total

Yield 4 servings

This slow-cooker chicken is a variation on Persian Fesenjoon, a medieval dish originally made with wild duck. This slow-cooker chicken stew is fork-tender with a perfect balance of sweet, sour and savory.

Ingredients

  • 2 cups toasted walnuts
  • 3T butter or olive oil, divided
  • 2 onions, chopped
  • 1/3 cup pomegranate molasses
  • 1/2 cup chicken stock
  • 2 T lemon juice
  • 1 1/2 t cinnamon
  • 1 t turmeric
  • 2 T brown sugar
  • 1 t kosher salt
  • 1/2 t ground pepper
  • 8 bone-in, skin-on chicken thighs
  • 10 whole peeled garlic cloves
  • 4 stems of fresh rosemary
  • 4 carrots, chopped into 1" pieces
  • 1 cup pomegranate seeds
  • 1/2 cup chopped parsley

Instructions

  1. Put the toasted walnuts in a food processor or Mini-Prep and blitz until they look like coarse meal. Set aside.
  2. Saute the onions in 2 T of butter or olive oil for about 5 minutes. Add toasted walnuts and cook for another 2 or three minutes, stirring. Add pomegranate molasses, chicken stock and lemon juice and stir to combine. Remove from heat, put into a bowl and set aside.
  3. In a medium-sized bowl, mix cinnamon, turmeric, brown sugar, salt and pepper. Using your hands, coat each piece of chicken with the spice mixture. Add 1 tablespoon of butter or olive oil to the pan you sauteed the onions in. Working in batches, brown the chicken on both sides.
  4. Put the chicken in the slow cooker and top with the onion and walnut sauce. Scatter garlic cloves and rosemary stems over the sauce. Start slow cooker on high, until sauce begins to bubble then turn down to low and cook for 3 1/2 hours. Add carrots to slow cooker and stir to combine with sauce. Continue cooking on low for another hour.
  5. Garnish with pomegranate seeds and chopped parsley. Serve over herbed basmati rice.
Disclaimer: I do not have any financial agreement with Cuisinart. I am an Amazon affiliate and if you purchase a slow cooker or any product through my Amazon links I do make a small commission on your purchase. I don't want you to buy anything you don't need, but I do appreciate your support when you purchase through my links.
THIS SERVES WELL WITH

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16 COMMENTS

Comments

  1. Marsha Feldstein says:

    This looks delicious, can it be made with chicken breasts instead? What would the cooking time be?

    1. Kim says:

      Hi Marsha,

      Yes, you can use chicken breasts and the cooking time would be the same. I prefer thighs for their flavor, moistness and lower cost. Check out my post on Chicken thighs for more details: http://somethingnewfordinner.com/inspiring-ingredients/inspiring-ingredients-chicken-thighs/. I hope you enjoy the recipe. Please write us back and tell us how chicken breasts works out for you. The sauce is so delicious you really can’t go wrong. In fact, I think it might be really good with lamb too.

  2. Marsha Feldstein says:

    I made this for dinner tonight and my husband and I thought it was amazing!!! I used chicken breasts instead of thighs and chanterell mushrooms instead of carrots. I happen to have the Cuisinart slow cooker, my first after years of thinking I didn’t want one, and the chicken was very moist and tender. The flavours, color and texture were a delightful treat and the addition of fresh parsley and pomegranate seeds made this a beautiful presentation, I would be proud to serve it to company. The preparation took a bit longer than I anticipated, the steps are easy but there are several; I started early so dinner was still ready in plenty of time and the result was worth it!

    1. Kim says:

      I am so glad you enjoyed the recipe Marsha. Yes, it does take a little longer than you would hope a slow cooker recipe would take. Sauteing the vegetables, browning the chicken and toasting the walnuts all help build the flavor of this dish. My solution to the time requirements of this dish is to make double the amount you need so you can eat it twice. The good news is the labor can be done early in the day and you have several hours free while the slow cooker finishes the job.

  3. Marsha Feldstein says:

    Your answer was so right! I made enough for three nights of meals, we did appreciate having the extra chicken already prepared. And doing the prep and cleanup hours earlier makes a much more relaxed dinner time.

  4. Joyce Hopkins Cassel says:

    I made this for dinner tonight..my husband and i enjoyed all the delicious flavors!. however,.i may have over processed the walnuts (walnut butter)…so my sauce was rather thick..perhaps next time i could add more chicken stock or pomegranate juice…?? or should the oonsistancy of the sauce be thick?

    1. Kim says:

      Hi Joyce, it does sound like you may have over-processed the walnuts. They should be ground but not processed all the way to nut butter. If you are using a food processor, I suggest using the “pulse” button, rather than the “on/off” button to better control the chop. When I researched this ancient dish I found some recipes called for a very fine chop and others, a little coarser. It really is a matter of preference. I go somewhere in between the two as I wanted a little texture.

      You can always add more liquid to adjust the thickness of the sauce. I personally like it thicker, but adding a little chicken stock would thin it out. Don’t give up on this dish, it is really exceptional. I think less processing of the walnuts would make a huge difference. Keep me posted!

  5. Barbara gallian says:

    Kim,
    Another hit! Loved this recipe, being able to come home from work to a ready beautiful meal was greatly appreciated. Thanks!

    1. Kim says:

      So glad you liked it Barbara. I am going to have to work adding more slow cooker recipes. There is something beautiful about coming home to a one-pot delicious meal.

  6. Susan C. says:

    The dish was delicious, looked wonderful and my husband loved it! It did take a little longer to prepare then I expected, but we had lots of left-overs and it was even better the next day. The nuts were a little rich and thick for my preference, so I added a little white wine to the mix and I substituted the carrots with mushrooms.
    Thanks Kim

    1. Kim says:

      Hi Susan,
      I’m so glad you enjoyed the recipe. You are right, this is not a dump and go slow cooker recipe. There is some advanced preparation in that the meat needs to be browned and the onions sauteed. Unfortunately these steps are what help to build flavor so I would not skip them. My solution to offset the extra labor is to make a lot and eat it twice. It is every bit as good the next day and maybe better.

      I like your solution of adding a little wine if you don’t like the sauce thick. I’ll give it a try the next time I make it.

  7. MARY EADINGTON says:

    TOTALLY LOVED THIS RECIPE…..MADE IT AT TAHOE AND IT WAS PERFECT FOR A COOL WINTER NIGHT!! KIM, YOU’RE AMAZING! THE DISH WAS DELICIOUS….CHICKEN TENDER AND SO FLAVORFUL…..AND THE PRESENTATION WITH THE POMEGRANITE SEEDS AND PARSLEY SO COLORFUL. MY GUESTS WERE SO IMPRESSED! IT WOULD BE PERFECT FOR THE HOLIDAYS!

  8. prem says:

    hello! thanks for this recipe! a friend recommended it to me- right up my ally! i am a busy mom and big fan of my slow cooker for sweet and savory stewed meat dishes like these- but i can’t be bothered with searing and sauteeing! i need to through everything in and go! 🙂 i know the prep-steps enhance the flavors but just in case any one is wondering you can still have a yummy meal by just combining all the ingredients and cooking as directed. ( i did toast the walnuts in a cast iron skillet though)

    1. Kim Pawell says:

      Thanks for the feedback Prem! We are always looking for shortcuts to healthy and tasty meals. I will have to give this a try without the searing. It would seriously make this a quick and easy recipe. I do agree, don’t skip toasting the walnuts as the process does enhance their flavor. Thank you!!!

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