With the holidays coming up, I didn't have a ton of extra money to spend, but I wanted to make a great impression on my guests! The nice folks at POM Wonderful sent me two boxes full of pomegranates plus coupons for five free bottles of POM juice to use for my dinner menu and decor. I wanted to plan a dinner that was high on flavor, but low on cost. I also wanted the decor to be inexpensive. Thanks to smart shopping and borrowed items from family, my total out-of-pocket expense for this multi-course meal? Less than $100!!
Dollar Tree was a great source of inexpensive items for my party. I found some cute red square ramekins to serve my sorbetto + a clear platter and vase for $6. I used the platter and vase to serve my amuse bouche bites -- I filled the base with ruby-red arils to carry the pomegranate theme and rested the platter on top!
My sister in law loaned me some Fiesta scarlet serving pieces, some lovely blue and gold linens from Persia, and some cute red mini flower vases. I designed and printed my framed menu card and the place cards for each setting at the table. Red happens to be my favorite color, so I used a hodgepodge of decor from around my house...and lots of pomegranates and arils. Here's a candle that I had burning on my bar.
So remember...you don't have to spend a fortune to throw a fun party! My menu relied on in-season produce, items from the bulk section of my favorite grocery store, and economical chicken breast. The food I served was full of flavor, and my guests really enjoyed trying pomegranates in various forms. My main dish featured pomegranate molasses in the tangy reduction that I spooned over the pan-roasted chicken breasts and pomegranate arils in the rice pilaf.
Moroccan-Spiced Chicken w/Fall Pomegranate Pilaf
Pilaf adapted from Chef POM Wonderful
Step 1: Make the spice rub for the chicken by combining the following ingredients in a small bowl:
- 1/2 tsp. turmeric
- 1/2 tsp. smoked paprika
- 3/4 tsp. black pepper
- 1/2 tsp. cayenne
- 1/2 tsp. cinnamon
- 1/4 tsp. nutmeg
- 1/2 tsp. coriander
- 1 tsp. cumin
- 1 tsp. ground ginger
- 1 tsp. kosher salt
Rub three boneless, skinless chicken breasts with the spice mixture on both sides. Refrigerate while you get the rest of the ingredients going.
Step 2: Boil 2 cups water, salt, and a bit of olive oil in a saucepan. Add 1 cup rice and bring to a boil. Reduce heat and cook for 20 minutes.
Step 3: While the rice is cooking: core and chop 1 small apple, 1 stalk celery, and 1/4 purple onion. Add a bit of olive oil to a small non-stick skillet. Saute the veggies and fruit for five minutes.
Step 4: Add 1 tbs. olive oil to a large non-stick skillet. Sear chicken breasts until browned on both sides.
Place the skillet in a preheated 375 oven for 15 minutes.
Step 5: When the rice is cooked, add the sauteed fruit and veggies.
Add 1/2 cup pomegranate arils, 1/3 cup craisins, 1/3 cup golden raisins, and 1/3 cup chopped pistachios. Stir to combine, and place the pilaf on an oval serving platter.
Step 6: Take the chicken out of the oven and place on top of the pilaf. Add 2 tbs. pomegranate molasses to the spicy drippings in the pan. Combine over medium heat until thick and bubbly.
Pour the sauce over the chicken and serve.
This dish is bursting with flavor! The Moroccan seasoning is great combination of spices...a little hot, a little spicy -- but it's NOT overwhelming! The pilaf compliments the flavors of the chicken very well. The sauteed apple and dried fruits are the epitome of fall flavors. Come back for one last recap post later this week...where we have our happy ending: Pomegranate-Port Sorbetto & Pomegranate Cake with Pomegranate-White Chocolate Buttercream...so good that it's worth the wait!!!