Lamb Fesenjan

While I was in Portland last weekend a friend who works for an organic produce distributor gave me a whole lot of beautiful organic fruits and veggies. Among them were these four humongous pomegranates. He suggested I dry them - just let them sit out looking beautiful till they're completely dry sometime next year. I've never done that, and I wanted to try, but I also wanted to cook something with them.

They had some nice looking local lamb stew-meat at the Co-op, so I decided to try my hand at a traditional Persian lamb and pomegranate dish: Fesenjan.

Pomegranate is a fruit I'm not too familiar with. They're beautiful, but they intimidate me with their intricate pattern of extremely messy red seeds. I saved the biggest most beautiful one to dry and started to try getting the juice out of the other three.

The seeds make a beautiful five pointed star pattern. Getting them out of the rind wasn't too hard. I cut each half into five pieces, following the star pattern, and then took the seeds out with my fingers. It made quite a red juicy mess in the kitchen, but was relatively easy to do. I wasn't too worried about getting a little bit of the white membrane into the pot since I would need to strain it anyway.

Here's the leftover peels. Good thing I compost!

I cooked the seeds down slowly in a little water, hoping they would release their juice.

After about 2 hours simmering at a low heat it looked like the seeds were still holding some juice, so I strained them using this Black Futsu squash to weight them. I got about a cup and a half of juice, which was exactly what I needed for the recipe.

While the pomegranate seeds were straining, I started cooking onions in olive oil and turmeric. I followed the red theme and used a big local red onion from Ed at Earthly Edibles.

When the onions had cooked down and were translucent, I set them aside and added the cubed lamb pieces to the same pan. Once they were browned, I sprinkled on some flour and these chopped walnuts.....

...and then a bit of powdered cardamom and cinnamon. The turmeric, cardamom, and cinnamon were a very interesting and very delicious taste combination!

Finally I added the onions back in, plus the pomegranate juice and a little water, and let it simmer for about an hour and a half. I seasoned it with salt and pepper, but the sauce still didn't have quite the rich tangy sweetness I had in mind, so on a whim I added a tiny bit of aged balsamic vinegar. This definitely didn't conform to the Persian recipe, but was exactly what it needed.

I served it with couscous and a green salad. Sometimes I really impress myself with the things I come up with - this was one of those times!
share on: Facebook