During my undergraduate years at the University of Oregon I carried myself through my work week knowing that I had a treat waiting for me on Fridays. Caspian, one of the restaurants in the treasure trove of 13th Ave, offered predictable daily specials, my favorite being the offering of Fesenjon on Fridays. I had never heard of this dish before, and the sign simply described it as chicken with a sauce of pomegranates and walnuts. Before long, I found myself hooked
unable to avoid the stuffed feeling comingled with tangy satisfaction as I would amble back to classes.
The ownership of Caspian has seemed to change over the years, and the emphasis of Mediterannean food has shifted a bit to please a more generic college palate. And sadly, my favorite dish disappeared. This was a good lesson in sharing appreciation. I have kicked myself for years, for not having taken the time out of my day to tell the little old man behind the counter how much I appreciated his meals. How could I have been so timid to express my joy?
Years have passed, and availabilities of special food items have changed, and so has my obsession with recreating this special dish evolved. I have gone from using pomegranate molasses, to using the juice, which is now widely available in grocery stores. This recipe is a culmination of on-line research and much tasting. It isn’t the same Fesenjoon I would enjoy sitting in front of Caspian, but it sure is close.
Toast 3/4 cup of walnut pieces.
Add to a blender with:
- 3/4 of a large onion
- 1/2 cup of broth
- two cups of pomegranate juice (the pom-tangerine works really well too, as I imagine the blueberry would)
Blend till the nuts are ground fine.
Brown whatever meat you want to use and pour the blended sauce over.
- My favorite method is making this with country style boneless pork ribs. The traditional methods are making this with chicken, duck, or lamb. I think goat would be good too.
- Cube two pounds of country style boneless ribs into 1 inch cubes. Sprinkle with two tsp of salt. In a hot pan, add 1 Tbs of oil, and allow to get hot. Add cubed pork and sear on all sides till browned and juices have evaporated, taking approximately 15- 20 minutes. Now pour your blended ingredients over the seared meat.
- 1/2 tsp of cinnamon
- a good pinch of saffron
Stir in either two Tbs of ketchup or two tablespoons of tomato paste with 2 tsp of sugar.
Bring to a boil then reduce heat to a simmer with the lid on for at least one hour.
Remove lid and continue to simmer, allowing sauce to thicken. The longer this cooks the better!
When meat is tender, stir in one Tbs of lemon juice, and possibly add more sugar to taste.
Break up the pork cubes by pressing down on them with the back of a large spoon. I find this shreads them the easy way.
Serve up! I like serving this on saffron rice made with butter and onions, Or just with warm pittas. Also, the leftovers make a great burrito with guacamole.