By Sonya Sandford
I was initially an Instant Pot doubter. I love both my Dutch oven
and my stock pot, and I love letting the kitchen slowly fill with
warmth as things simmer and cook for hours.
Then I married and an Instant Pot (electric pressure cooker) literally
showed up on my doorstep. At the risk of sounding ungrateful, I
put it away and forgot about it for at least six months.
And then I heard about making rice in the Instant Pot. My first
pot of sushi rice instantly made me a convert. My first vegetable
stock changed my feelings about how stock can best be made.
My first batch of chickpeas led me to making hummus on a more
regular basis. Rice, stock and beans are all great in the Instant
Pot, but I still carried some scepticism about cooking other things.
Chicken? Whatís wrong with cooking it in the oven?
Turns out, chicken in the pressure cooker is delicious! The chicken
ends up deeply infused with any added aromatic or spice, it becomes
fall-off-the-bone tender and requires much less attention than cooking
it on the hob.
The Georgian Jewish community traditionally makes chicken cooked
in pomegranate juice for Rosh Hashana. Itís sweet, tart, flavoursome
This recipe is an adaptation from multiple recipes, but in any
variation the chicken is braised in a generously spiced, fruity
pomegranate juice-based broth, and then topped with fresh red jewel-like
The pomegranate juice adds expected sweetness, but thereís also
an assertive and awakening tang that comes through, especially with
the addition of tamarind and pomegranate molasses.
The copious amounts of onion and garlic add deep levels of sweet
savouriness to the dish.
The coriander, hot pepper (not too hot), and thyme play off each
other with their respective perfuminess, heat and mintyness. A hint
of honey makes its way into the pot for sweetness without being
at the forefront of the show.
After 15 minutes at high pressure, the chicken barely clings to
its bones, and the sauce becomes rich with and fortified by the
golden schmaltz left over from browning the chicken.
Take out the chicken and let that liquid simmer (still in the
Instant Pot), and the mahogany-coloured sauce will thicken and become
silky and as decadent as a festive meal demands.
Once the chicken and sauce are plated, shower them with bright
green fresh herbs and glistening ruby red pomegranate seeds.
Dark meat works best, but white meat is fine too. You can make
this several days in advance and it improves when reheated. It also
freezes well; just leave off the fresh garnish until right before
You can also make this recipe the old-fashioned way.
Note: this recipe can easily be doubled.
Start by generously seasoning the chicken with salt and pepper
on both sides. Turn Instant Pot to saute setting.
If needed, increase the heat. Once the pot is hot, add a drizzle
of oil. Brown each piece of chicken until golden brown, about 3-4
minutes on each side.
Cook the chicken in batches so as not to crowd the pot and cause
the chicken to steam instead of brown. On the hob, brown the chicken
in a large pot or Dutch oven on medium high heat.
Once all of the chicken is browned, transfer it from the pot and
Add all the onions to the same pot, so that they can cook in the
remaining chicken fat. If the chicken did not release very much
oil, add another tablespoon or two of oil to the pot.
Season the onions with salt and saute for 5-6 minutes, or until
softened and starting to slightly brown.
Add the garlic, coriander and paprika to the pot and saute for
an additional 1-2 minutes, or until fragrant. Add the tomato paste
and stir everything until the onion mixture is well coated in the
Nestle the reserved browned chicken back into the pot. Press cancel
to turn off saute function. Follow the same steps on a hob.
Add the pomegranate juice, pomegranate molasses, tamarind paste,
honey, thyme and bay leaf to the pot. Place the lid on the Instant
Pot, close it and seal it.
Press the poultry or manual setting and set the time to 15 minutes.
Let the steam naturally release for 10-15 minutes, and shift the
valve to venting if more air needs to be released.
On the hob, cover the pot and simmer for 30 minutes on medium-low
or until the chicken is tender and cooked through.
Press cancel, open the lid and transfer the chicken to a platter
and lightly cover with foil to keep it warm. Remove the bay leaf
and thyme stems. Turn on the saute function again.
Allow the sauce to simmer and reduce by half, or until it has
reached your desired thickness. On the hob, turn the heat to medium-high
Once the sauce has reduced and thickened, pour it over the chicken.
At this point you can keep the dish warm in a low oven, or you can
cool it and freeze if making in advance.
Just before serving, garnish the chicken with fresh pomegranate
and roughly chopped coriander or parsley. Serves 6-8.