Thursday, May 30, 2013

Outdoor Wedding Buffet

Last weekend, I was out camping with about 2500 of my closest friends at the Potrero War, a medieval and renaissance re-creation event. At the event, two people I care for got married, and they asked the spouse and I to help with the food. The spouse made pasta salads and desserts, which I may cover in another post, if I can get the recipes from her. She also provided sliced cheese, rolled cold cuts for deli platters, bought melons that were cut up, and cut up veggies for a veggie tray. She did the bulk of the work, because I had to be on site on Wednesday for other duties, and we wanted the food to be as fresh as possible.

I made two dishes. One was a Persian chicken, walnut, and pomegranate stew called fesenjan.  The recipe I used for inspiration can be found here. The stew is sautéed chicken flavored with onion, turmeric, cinnamon, nutmeg, black pepper, and pomegranate molasses. It uses ground walnuts as a thickener. I prepared this at home, froze it, then it was thawed and reheated at the event.

To go with the fesenjan, I made rice, which I also froze and reheated at the event. For both the stew and the rice, I double bagged them in heavy duty freezer bags to be reheated by placing the bags in a large pot of boiling water.

I like this a lot. The walnuts add a great flavor, and the pomegranate molasses gives it a mildly tart, almost sweet and sour, taste that is quite different from most chicken dishes you'll run into.

I also made some stuffed dates. I worked from a recipe by a friend of the brides. There were stuffed
with a mixture of cream cheese, honey, ground pistachios, and cinnamon. I worked the mixture in my stand mixer until smooth and creamy, then placed it into a piping bag with a plain tip with an opening about the same size as the opening in the dates. One thing I will do next time is run the nuts through a colander to remove the largest pieces. I had my pastry tip clog a couple of times on a larger piece of pistachio. I piped the dates full of the mixture.

These turned out really nice. The creaminess of the filling contrasted well with the firm date.


Fesenjan (Chicken, Pomegranate, and Walnut Stew)

2 lbs. boneless skinless chicken thighs and breasts, cut into bite sized pieces
1/2 medium white onion, diced
3 cups chicken stock
1 cup ground walnuts
2 Tbsp. olive oil
2 Tbsp. butter
4 Tbsp. pomegranate molasses
1 1/2 Tbsp. sugar
1 tsp. turmeric
1/2 tsp. cinnamon
1/2 tsp. black pepper
1/4 tsp. nutmeg
salt to taste

Add butter and oil to a skillet over medium to medium high heat. Sautéed chicken pieces until lightly browned on all sides. Chicken need not be fully cooked. Place in a stock pot..

Sweat onions in pan until translucent. Add to stock pot.

Use a little of the stock to deglaze the pan. Add to stock pot. Cover chicken with remaining stock.

Cook at a simmer for 20 minutes. Add pomegranate molasses and spices. Stir in walnuts. Simmer another 20 minutes, stirring occasionally.

Serve over long grain rice.

Stuffed Dates

5 lbs. pitted dates
16 oz. by wt. cream cheese
1/3 cup honey
1 cup ground pistachios
1 Tbsp. sugar
1 tsp. cinnamon
1/4 tsp. sea salt

In the bowl of a stand mixer, work cream cheese with a paddle until smooth. Add honey, work again until creamy.  Add sugar, nuts, cinnamon, and salt. Work for five minutes, or until smooth. Transfer to a piping bag with a plain tip that will just fit in the dates.

Pipe into each date until it is just full. Refrigerate dates until serving time.

Happy Eating!

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