02 February 2016

Persian pomegranate walnut braised turkey legs

Khoresh-e-fesnjoon, a traditional Persian dish, is made by cooking chicken in a rich walnut pomegranate molasses sauce. Here is my unorthodox version made with fresh pomegranate juice and turkey legs. Contrary to the traditional stewed version, turkey legs are braised in a pomegranate walnut sauce. Furthermore, I brine the chicken for 24 hours to maximize the flavor.

2 turkey legs (about 4 pounds or 2 kg)
1 TBSP salt
1 TSP white pepper
½ TSP  ground cardamom
2 large yellow onion, finely julienned
½ cup sour orange juice (or lemon), freshly squeezed
1 1/2  cup pomegranate juice

3.5 Oz (100 gr) of walnut meal (about a cup)
Pinch of saffron

Combine salt, pepper and cardamom. Using your fingers, poke a hole underneath the skin. Rub the flesh with the salt mixture. Pour sour orange and pomegranate juices in a bag; add chopped onions and then turkey legs; Brine for eight hours. Add the dissolved saffron(in a TSP of water) and keep brining up to 24 hours.  

The next day, remove onions and legs from the brine, dry the surface with paper towel and set aside for half an hour to reach room temperature. Meanwhile toast the walnut meal until fragrant, set a side. In the same pan, caramelize the onion slices (those from the brine). Finally, brown the legs on both sides.     

Pre-heat the oven to 375 F or 190 C. Blend the brining liquid, caramelized onions and toasted walnut meal and make a well-mixed paste. Lay the legs skin-side-up in an oven proof dish (definitely glass or ceramic and surely not metallic). Slowly pour the paste in the dish and make sure you don’t get any of the paste on the browned leg skin.  

Bake covered for 90 minutes. Remove the foil and bake for another 30 minutes or until the legs are golden brown and the sauce is thick and rich. Garnish with toasted walnut or pistachio and serve with Persian rice.

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