Pomegranates are one of the symbolic foods of Rosh Hashana. I remember when I was first grade, my teacher split us into groups and gave us parts of a pomegranate and we had to count the seeds. I'm pretty sure we didn't get the exact number because if I remember correctly some of us couldn't resist the delicious fruit and ate some of this math project. The reason my teacher had us count the seeds is that many people think that the pomegranate has 613 seeds to symbolize the 613 mitzvot/commandments. While this is not the case and every pomegranate does not have the same amount of seeds there are still hundreds of arils inside the pomegranate. We eat this fruit on Rosh Hashana in the hopes that we are blessed in abundance like the abundant amount of seeds in a pomegranate.
During Rosh Hashana and Yom Kippur we reflect on our lives and our relationship with G-d. If we look to the pomegranate we can find some inspiration as to how we can improve both. Before you can enjoy a pomegranate you have to cut through a thick outer skin and then you have to remove the arils by peeling away the membranes (see below for links on how to remove the arils). You really have to put in some work before you are able to enjoy the fruit. Sometimes in life, you want to take the easy route, but that might not always be the best thing for you. If you work hard towards fulfilling your goals you will appreciate those sweet hard-earned results even more. When it comes to our relationship with G-d, sometimes you might think that He isn't there and that He isn't listening to you. G-d is always there if you just look past the hardships you're going through you will see that He has been there all along. Even during difficult times, He is there caring for and watching over each and every one of us.
Pomegranate Glazed Chicken Thighs
1/4 pomegranate molasses* plus 1 Tbs for drizzling
2 Tbs tomato paste
1 Tbs brown sugar
1/4 tsp cinnamon
1/8 tsp cumin
1 tsp kosher salt
1/2 tsp ground black pepper
1 Tbs lemon juice
4 cloves garlic, minced
1 jalapeno, seeded and minced
2 lb skin on chicken thighs (you can use boneless just adjust cooking time)
3 large white or red onions, thinly sliced
1 cup pomegranate arils for garnishing
Fresh herbs for garnishing
Combine the pomegranate molasses, tomato paste, brown sugar, spices, lemon juice, garlic and jalapeno in a gallon sized zip-top bag. Add the chicken and really massage the marinade into the chicken. Place the bag in a bowl or baking dish just in case it leaks and then stick it in the fridge for at least 1 hour or up to one day. If you want to make this in advance just stick the bag of chicken in the freezer for up to one month marinade and all.
When the chicken is done marinading preheat your oven to 400°F/200°C and spray a 9x13 pan or sheet pan with non-stick cooking spray. Place the sliced onions in the pan in a single layer. Place the chicken on top. Roast the chicken for about 45 minutes until cooked through making sure to baste the chicken with the juices in the bottom of the pan every 15 minutes.
Transfer the chicken to a serving platter drizzle with pan juices and arrange the flavorful caramelized onions around the chicken. Garnish the chicken with the pomegranate seeds, fresh herbs, and 1 Tbs of pomegranate molasses.
This works great on chicken thighs, but it would also be a great marinade for a roast or duck.
*If you can't find pomegranate molasses you can make your own by pouring 2 cups of pomegranate juice into a pot with 3 Tbs sugar and 3 Tbs lemon juice. Let the mixture reduce over a low flame for about 2 hours until it has reduced by half and has thickened slightly. It will thicken more as it cools.
Alternatively, you can use balsamic vinegar for that tart slightly sweet flavor.
How to seed a pomegranate
In water - https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=-qfQ3_N7S6Y
Wooden spoon - https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=znJgWpk71ZQ
Slicing - https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=DehdNlocf3I