Wild Rice Stuffed Pomegranate Chicken

I feel fall slipping right by me. I don't feel like I've taken proper advantage of the flavors my favorite season offers. But in my defense it felt like summer up until yesterday. Today I would call the breeze so assertive it qualifies as wind. The days are short and by four o'clock I feel like the sunlight's early retrieve leaves me weary by default and craving cozy. It works well that the kids end school early enough that they're (slightly) tired and spending more time around the table doing cozy with me. 

These early nights are also a reminder of what's to come: winter, holidays, boots. There's thanksgiving on the horizon, though now that I'm in Jerusalem there are obviously no signs of that. In truth, I never celebrated thanksgiving growing up so I'm a touch alienated from the fondness some of my friends feel. But, I get it. The food looks delicious and you get a day off. A regular day off to spend as you wish with friends and family around the table, that's always something to be delighted about. We've done a few thanksgiving dinners at my mother-in-law's but they've been mostly pseudo-traditional. There was no turkey, instead chicken. Shocking, I know. But it was everything we needed; togetherness and good food. And here I have a stuffed chicken, in keeping with the theme, that I make all year because it's always perfectly moist and intensely flavorful. The tart pomegranate molasses and honey against the zesty and nutty wild rice makes a solid pairing. It's the perfect oven to table situation that works well for special dinner, or Shabbat meal. Or thanksgiving, too, if you're the untraditional type. 


Wild Rice Stuffed Pomegranate Chicken

recipe developed for Binah Magazine 

ingredients

3 tablespoons olive oil

1 onion, diced

3 celery stalks, diced

1 cup uncooked wild rice

1 teaspoon sea salt

1/2 cup roasted slivered almonds

1/4 cup dried cranberries

5-6 dried apricots or dates, chopped

1/2 cup shelled pistachios, chopped

zest from half an orange

2 whole chickens

1 cup honey

1 cup pomegranate molasses

directions

  1. In a large saucepan, heat the olive oil on medium heat. Add the onions and celery and cook until translucent. Add the rice and 2 cups of boiling water and bring to a boil. Season with salt, cover and reduce the heat to a simmer. Once the rice is cooked, remove from heat and mix in the almonds, cranberries, apricots, pistachios, and orange zest. Set aside to cool.
  2. Preheat oven to 400F. Rinse the chickens and pat dry with a paper towel. Place them in a large roasting pan, season generously with salt and pepper and slowly stuff each cavity with the rice mixture. Tie the legs with kitchen twine. Pour the honey and pomegranate molasses over the chicken and massage into skin. Transfer the leftover rice into a cooking bag and add 1 cup water, seal and poke 1-2 wholes to let air out. Place it in the roasting pan next to the chickens. Bake uncovered for 45 minutes, the top should be nicely browned. Reduce the heat to 350F, cover and bake for an additional2.5-3 hours. Carve the chickens and serve alongside spoonfuls of rice.

note: You can even use leftover rice. Simply sauté the onion and celery until translucent and mix it into the cooked rice alongside the other toppings and proceed as directed. You would need about 3 cups.