Roast Chicken with Pomegranate, Pancetta and Brandy

Recipe courtesy of Psychologies Magazine (Dec 2015) and taken from At Home with Umami: Home-cooked recipes unlocking the magic of super-savory deliciousness by Laura Santtini.

This is a real showstopper, especially if you are generous with the brandy.  Serve with basmati rice steamed with cardamom pods to make the rice extra fragrant.

Chicken and pomegranate

Serves : 4

Ingredients:
3 tblsp olive oil
1 medium chicken, jointed into 8 pieces by a butcher
3 shallots (2 quartered, 1 chopped finely)
1 bunch fresh sage
4 garlic cloves
30g dried porcini mushrooms, soaked in 250ml boiling water, drained and chopped
4 medium pomegranates
25g butter
100g pancetta
generous splash of brandy
250ml double cream
sea salt and freshly ground black pepper
basmati rice, to serve

Step One : Preheat the oven to 180oC (350oF) Gas 4. Heat the oil in a cast-iron casserole dish over a medium-high heat. Add the chicken and brown on all sides. Season.

Step Two : Once browned, remove from the heat. Add the quartered shallots, half the sage, garlic and the liquid from the mushrooms. Replace the chicken, cover with a tight-fitting lid and roast in a preheated oven for 1 hour.

Step Three : Meanwhile, deseed the pomegranates by slicing them in half and bashing them with a wooden spoon over a bowl so that the seeds fall out. Crush the seeds slightly with a potato masher to release their juices.

Step Four : Take out the chicken and pour the pomegranate juices into the pan, reserving the seeds for later. Pop the chicken back into the oven.

Step Five : Make the sauce. Heat the butter in a medium saucepan over a medium heat. Once it has melted, add the chopped shallot and cook until translucent. Add the mushrooms, the rest of the sage and pancetta, and cook until the pancetta begins to crisp and the fat melts. Once the chicken is cooked, pour off its sauce into the mushrooms pan. Cover the chicken with foil to keep it warm.

Step Six : Add the brandy and the double cream to the sauce. Simmer until the sauce has reduced enough to coat the back of a spoon, then pour it back over the chicken, sprinkle with the reserved pomegranate seeds, and serve immediately with bowls of hot basmati rice.

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