Saturday, December 6, 2014

Fesenjan (Duck Stewed with Pomegranate and Walnuts) – Better Later Than Never!

Sorry for the delay, but if there's anything that deserves the “better late than never” tag, this duck fesenjan is it. A savory stew featuring duck, pomegranate, and walnuts, which is every bit as exotic as it sounds.

Keep in mind, I’m brand-new to Persian food, so this is just my interpretation of the ancient classic. I’m assuming like most similar recipes, every household has their own version, and this kind of thing can be obviously, and easily be tailored to your tastes.

The ingredients are simple and easy to manipulate. If you have trouble finding pomegranate syrup, or pomegranate molasses as it’s sometimes called, check out the online retailers, but you can actually make your own.

If you want to try, check out this recipe from my friend Elise, from Simply Recipes. It takes an hour or so, but its usefulness goes far beyond this duck recipe. By the way, if you're not down with Simply Recipes, you really should be. Elise has an amazing collection of recipes. 

Regarding the duck, I like to sear the meat in a pan, since you'll get faster and deeper browning. The high sides of a Dutch oven can sometimes hold in moisture and you won’t get the same results. As long as you deglaze the pan, nothing is lost.

Other than that, it’s a very straightforward recipe. Just stew everything until the meat is tender, but not totally falling apart; then reduce the sauce until as thick and intensely flavored as you want. I really hope you give this Persian duck stew a try soon. Enjoy!

Ingredients for 8 to 10 Duck Legs or chicken leg quarters, seared in vegetable oil until browned
1 tbsp reserved duck fat
3-4 tbsp olive oil
2 cups diced yellow onion
1 tsp turmeric
1/2 tsp cinnamon
1/8 tsp nutmeg
6 cups chicken broth, or more as need to adjust liquid levels
1/4 cup honey
2/3 cup pomegranate syrup aka molasses
3 cups walnut halves, ground
salt and pepper to taste


Neda Ghazi said...

I love your Fesenjoon. I suggest shole zard, Persian saffron rice pudding for dessert. Easy to cock and delicious.

Sick Vans Blog said...

I really like what you've been doing with your channel lately--Persian dishes, chicken tikka masala, Tom Kha Gai, chili crabs, etc.

I know it pisses off whatever particular culture grew up with these dishes because they somehow lack "authenticity," but it's perfect for people like me: folks who DIDN'T grow up with this stuff, and are always looking to elevate weekday dinner above tuna casserole, meat and potatoes, and chicken breast what-have-yous (the kind of stuff I grew up with).

Maryam Sh said...

Thank you Chef, This Fesenjun looks great. In fact last time I made it, I browned the duck before adding it to the stew because that was what you did in your Duck-adobo video and it came out great. Also, I learned from my grandma (she was from Rasht, where this dish is originated from) that if you shock the walnuts with iced water when they are hot they will release more oil. So I could reserve the duck fat for other dishes. Thanks again Chef john for looking into Persian food again. You are the best, and my reason for cooking!

kinjun ranger said...

Chef John - I have never heard of this before, but I may need to go buy some duck legs for this one. Looks amazing. Sorry abut your tire, car problems stink.

Chibby said...

Wow, I think I like your version better with the duck legs! I'm glad you showed off this dish. Middle Eastern food is my new favorite and I really hope it catches on with my fellow Westerners because it's really, really underrated.Thanks CJ for getting to my foodwish! I hope you liked it :P

Karina N said...

Another incredible dish! May I suggest you to include the duration (estimate cooking time) for all dishes somewhere near the ingredient list? I sometimes will get so intrigued to get started on your recipe, only to find out it actually need to take 3-4 hours longer than I expected... :) Just a suggestion. Thanks for all the great recipes and fun videos!

Hand.punuar said...

Chef John,

You are da best! Loved this recipe. Looks and tastes delicious. I had to do something else with all the pomegranates we buy. Love the fruit. I was wondering for desert if you could try baklava. Who doesn't love baklava. People think it is Greek, but it is middle eastern first. Persians have their version, and Turks have their delicious version too. Any type will be a winner if done from you.

S/V Blondie-Dog said...

YiKeS! Somehows' it occurs to me 'dat dis' here duck stew, as good as it mights' be, is a tad bit beyond my budget. Da' cost alone 'fer da' three cups of walnuts would make me think twice before giving it a try. Thanks but me thinks dat' I'll stick to cookin' up my usual budget friendly fricase de pollo. Thanks anyways! You're da' best!

H.Sadeghi said...

I don't see how it's not authentic. Perfectly delicious food with perhaps few aesthetic refining steps. Love your cooking chef John!

Mark Leggett said...

Hey Chef john!!

Looks delicious!
Can I use another kind of nut instead of the Walnuts cause I can't eat em?

Mel K said...

Oh my, this is exactly how I make my fesenjoon and I'm a true persian. My suggestion would be to make a Persian dessert called Sholezard. It includes all of the savory ingredients that a Persian dish entails. It includes rice saffron rosewater sugar etc. I would love to see a video on that ;)

philogaia said...

This looks yummy and I'm glad to see that a Persian weighed in to say this really is authentic. Thanks Mel K.

Oh, and you can also find pomegranate molasses in an Indian market. Or make it yourself by reducing pomegranate juice.

deli msgh said...

Hey chef john!
U r simply perfect !
I used to add sugar instead of Honey .
It works ;)

Lefty said...

Now, I really need to try this for the first time!
I'm really happy you started Persian food! Keep it up...

My suggestion would be Lubia Polo. Every time I make it people fall in love!

Behzad Motaghi said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Foodie DNA said...

I think you got the recipe just right, according to the comments! Last month I cooked partridge for the first time ever and used a similar sauce, which I usually prepare stuffed onions in. I used date molasses instead of honey and added a bit of tamarind paste alongside the pomegranate syrup. Also used garlic, cinnamon and nutmeg (or mace) but left out the turmeric, replacing it with cardamom, bay leaves and cumin.
Next time I'm going to try an Iraqi Nabatean recipe for small meatballs (traditionally known as "hazelnuts", due to their shape and size) cooked in a sauce of meat broth, pounded pistachios, mint leaves, rose petal jam, sour pomegranate juice, saffron and all the spices used in aṭraf al-teeb (a medieval spice blend, which I imagine is a magical concoction of many similar spices used in the Middle East today, perhaps a predominantly sweeter version with more cinnamon or cardamom). Then the dish is reduced to a thick gravy. When the meatballs have cooked and the sauce has condensed, the pot is removed from the fire and sprinkled with some rosewater and saffron. It's nice served next to a bed of rice. I'd love it if you would this recipe give it a try, since I think you have a good sense of Middle Eastern flavours.

Vance Smith said...

I can't wait to try this! I will be using chicken because I've never had duck and I don't know if this is the receipt I'd like to first try it with. Also the rice will be a bit of a challenge but I can do it. Ill let you know how it turns out.

JEL said...

A question for you Chef John:

I made this using Moulard (a hybrid of Pekin and Muscovy duck) duck legs from D'Artagnan and ended up with an oily mess. After two hours of stovetop cooking, the delicious fesenjan sauce had sunk to the bottom of my Dutch oven topped by several inches of oil or duck fat. At that point, I removed the duck legs to an oven skillet, fished out the sauce from the bottom of the oil, placed the dish in a 250 degree oven for another hour. The final dish was very tasty but the duck was on the dry side. In hindsight, I should have removed the duck earlier.

Any suggestions? Would you use another breed of duck? If not, how would you alter the preparation with moulard duck? Would you recommend curing the duck ahead of time?

JEL said...

Follow-up from the duck purveyor: D'Artagnan recommends cooking the duck in a 250 degree oven in a covered oven skillet for 1.5 to 2.5 hours followed by a stint in the refrigerator in which the fat is cooled and congealed. At this point, the legs can be browned and crisped on the stovetop or under the broiler.

Any suggestions on how this fits into the general scheme of your wonderful recipe? Perhaps cook the sauce separately and add the duck at the end for a short warming?