Persian Chicken (Fesenjan) Stuffed Buns

A celebratory Persian classic, reduced to sweet-sharp perfection and stuffed in a bun. Really nice this.

Done in 4 hrs

Twisted: Unserious food tastes seriously good.
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Ingredients

They've got pomegranates, they've got chicken, they are very delicious. Make sure you cover the buns with a tea towel to steam them at the end.

Method

Preheat the oven to 180°C.

In a small bowl whisk the milk, yeast and sugar together. Leave for around 20 minutes - it should start to bubble and froth a little by this point. Beat the egg and salt into the mixture.

Place the flour in a mixer (or large bowl if you are using your hands) and pour in the wet mixture. Knead/use the dough hook attachment until the dough has started coming together, then add the softened butter. Continue kneading until you have a smooth but slightly sticky dough - add more flour if it all seems a bit too wet.

When springy to the touch, place in a greased bowl covered with a damp cloth and leave to rise. Time to move onto the stewed chicken!

Take the walnut pieces and spread them out over a large baking tray. Roast them until they've nicely toasted all over, roughly 10 minutes but keep an eye on them so they don't burn. Allow them to cool and remove a large handful for garnishing later.

If you've got a food processor blitz the walnuts until very small, but be careful they don't turn into a paste or go oily. Alternatively chop them by hand.

Dig out a large cast iron Dutch oven/casserole and place it over a medium heat with the olive oil. Fry the chicken thighs 4 at a time until browned all over and then remove from the pan - keep their fat in there for the next step.

Add the onion, turn the heat down and fry until soft, roughly 10 minutes. Add the grated carrot and fry for a further 5 minutes before adding the tomato puree. Continue cooking for a further minute, then pour over the pomegranate juice, stock and pomegranate molasses. Bring to a simmer and add the cinnamon, saffron, sugar and salt along with the walnuts and chicken.

Return to a simmer and place in the oven, lid ajar to let the steam out, turning the temperature down to 140°C. Cook for roughly an hour or until the chicken is pull apart tender.

Remove from the oven and place back on the hob to reduce the liquid further - you want it to be really thick. Shred the chicken with a pair of forks and allow the mixture to cool in the fridge.

Take the dough from earlier and divide it into 70g balls. Flatten each ball with your fingers and place 2 tbsp of the shredded chicken and thickened sauce in the middle. Pinch together the sides to seal the mixture inside and roll between your hands to make roughly 14 smooth even dough balls. Brush with the egg yolk mixture.

Turn the oven back to 180°C and place the dough balls on two lined baking trays. Bake for 15 - 20 minutes, rotating halfway, until golden brown. Remove from the oven and cover immediately with a clean tea towel to steam them through.

Meanwhile, whisk together the cucumber, yoghurt, herbs, garlic cloves and sea salt. Place in a large bowl and garnish with the rose petals pomegranate seeds.

Enjoy the buns warm dipped in the yoghurt.

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Hugh Woodward

Hugh Woodward

Hugh's culinary life began aged 14 when he cooked spaghetti hoop burritos to impress girls. Since then his colourful career has taken him to performing in Skegness, making cheese in Peckham, running a wine bar on Columbia Road and reluctantly working in a (briefly) Michelin Starred restaurant. He likes fish, things cooked on charcoal, cheap dinners and London's rich cultural tapestry of food shops. When he's not cooking or eating he can be found mudlarking by the river Thames, buying bits in flea markets and hanging out with his cat Keith.

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