“This sauce, is it cherry?” Wendy asked.
“It has a dark cherry color,” Paulette said, dabbing a little on her tongue. “But I don’t know,” her voice trailed off.
” I bet it’s a mixture of berries,” said Marty, spooning the garnet glaze over the meat.
I smiled and shook my head.
“Plum, perhaps?” asked Rick.
No one at potluck was able to identify the fruit at the heart of this sauce.
But when I informed them that it was pomegranate, there was a collective nod and murmur, “Ahhhhh.”
Bottled pomegranate juice arrived on the food scene as the new darling almost a decade ago. Antioxidant-rich, packed with vitamins A, C, and E, the tart claret juice is now beyond a trend, and well-established in the culinary world.
Still, I had cooked with it on rare occasions. Had our roles been reversed, I doubt that I would have correctly identified the fruit either.
Wanting to cook a turkey breast for our potluck, I did a little on-line research to find some new method or preparation. Of all the recipes I pored over, this one leapt out.
Smoke-roasted turkey breast with pomegranate-thyme glaze was one of five holiday bird recipes, but it’s silly to wait until Thanksgiving for such a dish. For its versatility and taste, turkey should be welcome any time of year. It is especially good for potlucks and the like–even a plump breast of turkey can ably feed a crowd.
And, in summer, having your main cooking source placed outside makes good sense.
Garlic, shallots and fresh thyme ground with olive oil and a splash of POM make a delectable seasoning rub for the bird.
The recipe is appealing, too, for its laissez-faire nature. I could put the breast on my smoker grill (I have a Big Green Egg) and then go about my business. The smoker works its magic for hours out in the heat of the day, while I am inside,
Adding soaked wood chips to those smoldering coals imparts another sweet layer of flavor. If you don’t have a smoker, you can slow-roast the turkey in your oven. You won’t get that smoky taste or distinctive pink-tinged ring permeating the meat. But the herbs and tart fruitiness will still bring intriguing tastes that partner well with turkey, but are a step out of the usual.
The glaze takes up where the pesto rub leaves off. Pomegranate’s inherent tang is both bolstered and balanced with brown sugar and vinegar. You can make it while the turkey is cooking along.
It has its own laissez-faire way. At a simmer, it reduces over the course of half an hour. Or so.
You just need to give it an occasional stir.
Even so, it is not a thick glaze–to its benefit. The thin syrup glosses over the breast, staining the skin and meat with a beautiful red violet color. Both look and taste hint at fall.
I suspect the glaze would be just as delicious brushed onto chicken or duck. Pork too!
adapted from Cooking Light
1 tablespoon olive oil
2 cloves garlic, minced
1 shallot or 1/3 cup white onion, diced
1 tablespoon fresh thyme leaves
1 1/2 cups pomegranate juice
1/4 cup brown sugar (I used Demerara)
3 tablespoons white wine vinegar
1/2 teaspoon salt
1/4 teaspoon black pepper
pinch or two red pepper flakes
Warm olive oil in a deep skillet. Saute garlic and shallots for 1-2 minutes, until softened. Stir in thyme leaves, pomegranate juice, brown sugar and vinegar. Season with salt, black pepper, and a sprinkle or two red pepper flakes. Allow the mixture to cook on low for at about thirty minutes, until it reduces by half, to a thin syrup.
SMOKED TURKEY BREAST
1 6 lb turkey breast
2 tablespoons olive oil
2 tablespoons fresh thyme leaves
2 tablespoons pomegranate juice
2 cloves garlic
1 teaspoon salt, divided
1/2 teaspoon black pepper, divided
paprika–to sprinkle over turkey breast
2 cups wood chips, soaked (applewood, cherrywood, hickory, mesquite–your choice)
Rinse and dry turkey breast.
Place olive oil, thyme leaves, garlic, pomegranate juice, 1/2 teaspoon salt and 1/4 teaspoon black pepper into a food processor. Pulse until the ingredients become a kind of rough pesto.
Lift the skin of the turkey and liberally rub the thyme mixture onto the flesh.
Sprinkle the exterior of the bird with remaining salt, black pepper, and a light dusting of paprika.
Prepare grill, adding soaked wood chips to the coals. When the temperature gauge reaches 200 degrees, place the turkey breast on the grill. Cover and allow it to smoke for about 3 hours. At that point, brush on some glaze and let the breast finish for another 30 minutes. Check the internal temperature of the bird–it should register 165 degrees to be done.
Remove from the smoker grill. As the turkey cools, continue brushing with more glaze.
Cut into nice 1/4″ slices and arrange on a platter, drizzling glaze over the slices.
Serve with remaining glaze in a bowl on the side. Serves 10