Chicken and Pomegranate Chili with Chickpea Polenta Cakes
- 2 tablespoons olive oil
- 1 pound boneless, skinless chicken breasts, cut into chunks
- 1 pound boneless, skinless chicken thighs, cut into chunks Salt and freshly ground black pepper
- 1 onion, chopped
- 2 carrots, chopped
- 2 celery stalks, chopped
- 6 garlic cloves, crushed
- 2 tablespoons ancho chile powder
- 2 bay leaves
- 2 cups pomegranate juice
- 2 cups low-sodium chicken broth
Chickpea Polenta Cakes:
- 2 tablespoons olive oil, or more if needed
- 1 onion, chopped
- 2 garlic cloves, chopped
- 1 cup falafel mix (see Notes)
- 1 cup coarse polenta
- 3 cups low-sodium chicken broth
- 1 cup crumbled farmer cheese (see Notes)
- Salt and freshly ground black pepper
- Fresh pomegranate seeds
Make the Chili: Preheat the oven to 350°F. In a large flameproof baking dish, heat the oil on top of the stove over medium-high heat. Season the chicken with salt and pepper, put in the dish, and cook, turning occasionally, until browned, about 5 minutes. Add the onion, carrots, celery, and garlic and saute for 5 minutes. Add the chile powder, bay leaves, pomegranate juice, and broth and bring to a boil.
Remove the dish from the heat and cover with aluminum foil, making sure to seal the dish tightly. Bake for about 2 hours, until the chicken is cooked through and the sauce is thick.
Make the Chickpea Polenta Cakes: Meanwhile, in a medium saucepan, heat 1 tablespoon of the oil over medium heat. Add the onion and garlic and saute until softened, about 5 minutes. Add the falafel mix and polenta and saute for 5 minutes. Add the broth, 1 cup water, the cheese, and salt and pepper to taste and simmer until the liquid is absorbed, 18 to 22 minutes. Remove from the heat and pour the mixture onto a rimmed baking sheet, smoothing the top with a rubber spatula. Let cool completely, about 2 hours, then cut into triangles.
In a large saute pan, heat the remaining 1 tablespoon oil over high heat. Working in batches if necessary to avoid crowding the pan, add the triangles, and cook until golden brown on each side, 5 to 7 minutes; add more oil to the pan if needed. Divide the chickpea polenta cakes among 4 serving plates and spoon the chili over them. Garnish with pomegranate seeds and serve immediately.
Notes: Falafel mix, made up of dried ground chickpeas and other beans, dehydrated vegetables, and spices, can be found in Middle Eastern markets.
Farmer cheese is a fresh cheese made by draining and pressing cottage cheese into a loaf form until it's dry and firm enough to slice or crumble. If farmer cheese is unavailable, substitute queso fresco or queso blanco, which can be found in the refrigerated Mexican foods section of many supermarkets and in Latino markets.