If you love fruity, sweet and sour flavors in your food, then this stew is right up your alley. Inspired by a famous stew from Aleppo, Syria but streamlined to the max. The stew combines the flavors of quince, red beets, pomegranate, with a touch of garlic and mint; these flavors are lilting, sweet and a tad sour and the colors a joyful celebration of Fall.
The traditional Aleppo stew contains stuffed kibbeh balls in addition to lamb or veal shanks and it is truly a grandiose dish. I kept it simple and used some duck breast instead, a bit more like the Persian version of the quince stew.
INGREDIENTS: 4 to 6 servings
- 1 large onion, chopped
- 2 duck breasts or one chicken, cut up in 8 pieces (or 1 lb of stew meat)
- 2 quinces
- 3 small red beets
- 2 cups of either water, chicken broth or beef broth (adjust quantity as stew simmers)
- 3 tbsp of pomegranate molasses or 1 cup of pomegranate juice
- 3 tbsp of sugar (more, to taste)
- 3 garlic cloves, chopped and mashed in a mortar with a dash of salt
- 2 tsp of dried mint
- 2 tbsp of oil
- Heat the oil in a large pot and add the onion; fry till soft and golden. Add the chicken pieces or stew meat or duck breasts; pan-fry on both sides till browned; drain the pot of the excess oil; if using duck, cut the breasts into chunks. Remove the meat from the pot and set aside.
- Peel the red beets and cut into slices; rub the quince to remove the outer fuzz and cut into chunks, discarding the core and seeds (or keep the seeds to use for tea later). Place the beets and quince in the pot with a little bit of oil left and gently pan-fry for a few minutes; add the meat (or chicken or duck) back and add 2 cups of water to the pot; cover and simmer gently for 40 minutes; uncover, add the pomegranate molasses or juice and sugar and simmer uncovered about 30 minutes. About 10 minutes before the end of cooking, add the mashed garlic and mint. Taste to adjust seasoning and serve with rice.