Walnut-Crusted Chicken with Pomegranate Sauce

4.41 from 10 votes
1 hour
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Walnut-Crusted Chicken with Pomegranate Sauce is an updated, elegant “deconstructed” twist on the classic Middle-Eastern dish known as Fesenjan that everyone will enjoy!

Walnut-Crusted Chicken with Pomegranate Sauce - Overhead hero shot of dish on white oval platter garnished with parsley and walnuts with sauce on white background

If you told your family you were having Fesenjan for dinner, chances are they wouldn’t have a clue what you were talking about.

Fesenjan is a traditional Iranian stew typically made with pomegranate molasses (or paste), ground walnuts and poultry such as duck or chicken.  It’s a dish I make frequently for one of my well-traveled clients.

For this interpretation, boneless skinless chicken breasts get a coating of finely chopped walnuts for a delicious crunchy exterior!  Rather than braising chicken or duck in pomegranate molasses (which can be difficult to find), this version has an easy-to-make sauce prepared on the stovetop that uses pomegranate juice, port wine, a little chicken broth, butter for depth and a touch of honey for sweetness.

How to make Walnut-Crusted Chicken with Pomegranate Sauce:

  • The sauce is super simple, made in a saucepan and you’ll want to get it going before you bake the chicken.  Simply combine finely chopped shallot, pomegranate juice, ruby or tawny port wine and chicken broth in a small saucepan.  Bring it to a boil and let it simmer away until it’s reduced by 1/3 to 1/2.
  • Combine a little corn starch with a little chicken broth, add it to the sauce and simmer until it thickens.
  • Then whisk in some butter, honey and salt and black pepper.
Walnut-Crusted Chicken with Pomegranate Sauce - Overhead shot of sauce in saucepan on white background with whisk and white towel
  • For the chicken, start with about 2 cups walnut “pieces.”  You could also use walnut halves, but you’ll probably need more than 2 cups to end up with the required amount of finely chopped walnuts.
Overhead shot of walnut pieces in mini food processor
  • Process until finely chopped in a food processor, preferably a mini food processor.  You should end up with just over 1 3/4 cups finely chopped walnuts.
Overhead shot of finely chopped walnuts in mini food processor
  • Combine the finely chopped walnuts with dried thyme, salt and black pepper and some fresh parsley.
  • Coat the chicken with Dijon mustard then dredge in the walnut mixture and place on a parchment paper-lined baking sheet.  Give it a shot of cooking spray to moisten the nuts and prevent them from burning.
Walnut-Crusted Chicken with Pomegranate Sauce - Overhead shot of chicken breasts coated with walnuts on parchment paper before baking
  • Place in the oven on a rack in the middle of the oven and bake for 20-25 minutes or until an instant-read thermometer registers 165 degrees in the center.
Walnut-Crusted Chicken with Pomegranate Sauce - Overhead shot of chicken after being baked
  • Garnish with chopped fresh parsley and serve with the sauce!
Walnut-Crusted Chicken with Pomegranate Sauce - Overhead shot of dish on white platter with sauce on marble background garnished with parsley

That’s it!  So easy and so elegant!  Perfect for a family dinner or dinner party!

Walnut-Crusted Chicken with Pomegranate Sauce - Overhead shot with one breast served up on blue and white plate with sauce and green beans

All you need is a green veggie on the side!

Walnut-Crusted Chicken with Pomegranate Sauce - Close-up straight-on shot of chicken on blue and white plate with green beans

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Walnut-Crusted Chicken with Pomegranate Sauce - Close-up straight-on shot of chicken on blue and white plate with green beans

Walnut-Crusted Chicken with Pomegranate Sauce

4.41 from 10 votes

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By: Carol | From A Chef’s Kitchen
Walnut-Crusted Chicken with Pomegranate Sauce is an updated, elegant “deconstructed” twist on the classic Middle-Eastern dish known as Fesenjan that everyone will enjoy!
Prep Time 20 minutes
Cook Time 40 minutes
Total Time 1 hour
Course Chicken and Turkey
Cuisine Mediterranean / Middle Eastern
Servings 4
Calories 673 kcal

Ingredients
  

Pomegranate Sauce

  • 1 large shallot - finely chopped
  • 1/4 cup port wine - tawny or ruby
  • 1 1/2 cups pomegranate juice
  • 1/2 cup chicken broth - divided
  • 4 tablespoons unsalted butter - cut into small pieces
  • 1 teaspoon corn starch
  • 1 tablespoon honey - or to taste
  • Salt and freshly ground black pepper - to taste

Chicken

  • 1 3/4 cups finely chopped walnuts - start with 2 cups walnut “pieces”
  • 1 teaspoon dried thyme
  • 2 tablespoons chopped fresh parsley - plus more for garnish
  • Salt and freshly ground black pepper - to taste
  • 1/4 cup Dijon mustard
  • 4 boneless skinless chicken breast halves
  • Cooking spray
  • Parsley sprigs - for garnish

Instructions
 

Pomegranate Sauce

  • Combine shallot and port wine in a small saucepan. Bring to a boil and reduce to approximately 2 tablespoons.
  • Add all the pomegranate juice and chicken broth LESS 1 TABLESPOON. Bring to a boil.
  • Reduce heat to medium-low and simmer 20-30 minutes or until reduced by 1/3 to 1/2.
  • Combine corn starch with the remaining 1 tablespoon chicken broth in a small bowl. Add to sauce.
  • Simmer until it starts to thicken.
  • Add butter, honey and salt and black pepper, to taste. Keep warm.

Chicken

  • Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Line a baking sheet with parchment paper.
  • Combine walnuts, thyme, 2 tablespoons chopped fresh parsley and salt and pepper to taste in a bowl.
  • Coat the chicken with the mustard. Dredge in the nut mixture and place on the prepared baking sheet. Spray with cooking spray.
  • Bake for 20-25 minutes or until an instant-read thermometer registers 165 degrees in the center.

Notes

MAKE AHEAD:
  • SAUCE: Sauce may be prepared 1-2 days ahead. Gently reheat in the microwave or stovetop.
  • CHICKEN: Coat with walnuts 1 day ahead and refrigerate covered until needed.

Nutrition

Serving: 1 | Calories: 673kcal | Carbohydrates: 28g | Protein: 33g | Fat: 49g | Saturated Fat: 11g | Polyunsaturated Fat: 25g | Monounsaturated Fat: 9g | Trans Fat: 1g | Cholesterol: 103mg | Sodium: 514mg | Potassium: 926mg | Fiber: 5g | Sugar: 19g | Vitamin A: 584IU | Vitamin C: 5mg | Calcium: 92mg | Iron: 3mg

These are estimated values generated from a nutritional database using unbranded products. Please do your own research with the products you’re using if you have a serious health issue or are following a specific diet.

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Recipe Rating




19 Comments

  1. This recipe is so intriguing. I would like to crust my chicken breasts with shelled pistachio nuts instead of walnuts, but I’m wondering if thyme is right herb to use with the pistachionut/pomegranate combination. Any suggestions will be gratefully received.

    Thanks!

    1. Hi, Kathy, Thanks so much for your question! I think pistachios would be great and you’re right about the thyme. I would go with something a little more neutral like chopped fresh parsley. Thanks again and hope you enjoy!!

  2. I always have pomegranate molasses in my fridge but rarely pomegranate juice. The juice is very expensive and more difficult to find than the molasses in my area. How would I best modify your pomegranate sauce with pomegranate molasses vs juice?

    1. Hi, Bean, Thanks so much for your question. Since pomegranate molasses is basically pomegranate juice that has been reduced to a thick, syrupy consistency, you can just use the molasses and increase the amount of chicken broth. I would suggest doing it to taste so it’s not too tart. Thanks again and hope you enjoy!!

  3. Good evening! I had this lonely pomegranate sitting in a bowl on my counter and thought I’d better use it before it goes rotten. So…I went searching for a good recipe and found this. Thank you. It was really, really delicious!

    1. Hi, Doreen, Thanks so very much and you really made my day! Love love love that you put that lonely pomegranate to use! Cooking with what you already have is what I like to focus on here. Thanks again and so glad you enjoyed!!

  4. I absolutely love what you did by deconstructing, if you will, the traditional fesenjan. This is just so smart and so delicious and nutritious! I’m inspired Carol!

  5. 5 stars
    It’s been ages since I’ve put a nut crust on my chicken, but now it’s going to happen again soon! And having a gorgeous pom sauce to accompany it sounds amazing!!