I haven't ever participated in Paper Chef, but promised myself I'd take a swing this month. Of course, I had to pick what I think it the most challenging month to start! (Basically, one of the ingredients it totally out of season...hmph).
Eggplant, Chocolate, Stale Bread & Pomegranate
Cocoa-Pomegranate Roast Chicken with Eggplant Stuffing
This turned out surprisingly well. The cocoa lends a deep, earthy flavor to the rub, while the pomegranate keeps things tangy. Marjoram seemed like the natural "herb" seasoning for this, but it could also be interesting with oregano.
I loved the stuffing, which only improved with a couple of minutes under the broiler to crisp things up.
- 1 medium-large eggplant, diced
- 2 tbsp unsalted butter
- 1 large onion, finely diced
- 1 day-old ciabatta loaf, cut into 1/2" cubes
- 2 tbsp chicken stock
- 1/2 tbsp unsweetened cocoa powder
- 2 sprigs fresh marjoram, chopped fine
- Place the eggplant into a roasting dish and season liberally with salt & pepper, and drizzle with olive oil. Roast in a 425° for 20-30 minutes, stirring as needed.
- Meanwhile, melt the butter in a dutch oven and allow to foam slightly. Add the onions, and cook on medium-high heat until the onions are soft, translucent and just beginning to caramelize.
- Add the bread to the onions, tossing to coat; moisten the whole lot with the chicken stock, then add in the roasted eggplant.
- Add the cocoa powder, marjoram and season to taste with salt & pepper. Set aside.
Cocoa-Pomegranate Roast Chicken
- 1 3.5 - 4lb free-range or kosher chicken
- 1 tbsp cocoa powder
- 1/2 tsp ancho chile powder
- 1/4 tsp cinnamon
- 1 tsp muscovado or other dark brown sugar
- 1/2 tsp dried marjoram
- 1-2 tbsp pomegranate syrup
- 1/2 cup pomegranate seeds
- Preheat oven to 450°. If using a kosher bird, be sure to rinse it thoroughly to remove excess salt. Remove giblets, pat dry, and set aside.
- In a mortar & pestle, mix together the cocoa, ancho, cinnamon, sugar and marjoram. Transfer to a glass bowl, and slowly start incorporating the pomegranate syrup until you have a rich, dark brown paste the consistency of thick cake batter.
- Rub both the inside and outside of the bird with paste. Gently smear some paste under the breast skin.
- Roast the chicken, breast-side down for 20 minutes at 450°. Remove, and reduce the oven to 325°.
- Stuff the cavity with the eggplant-bread mixture, and return to the roasting pan, this time breast-up. Cook another 45 minutes or until the juices run clear and your meat thermometer reads 160°.
- Brush the skin lightly with a 1:1 ratio of pomegranate syrup to water, and broil until crispy, just a minute or two.
- Garnish with fresh pomegrate seeds and serve.