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Chicken, Bacon, (Sex &) Fessenjoon: A Recipe

Meet Arash. We first discovered him through his killer concoction: Ghormeh Sabzi sushi. He’s the founder of Bread, Butter, and Bacon — and since we’re food obsessed, we knew we had to get him on the blog ASAP. And while he claims to be a fessenjoon-hater (shocking right), we’re still turned on by the fact that he’s going to going to law school and a whiz in the kitchen. He may not call himself a chef, but we consider him a self-taught genius.

No one can beat Arash’s creativity in the kitchen

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and we’re so excited to share his latest invention with you. Check him out:

 

Unfortunately for the S&F crowd, I’m on the side that’s not too fond of fessenjoon, but in the interest of trying new things and keeping an open mind, I’ve decided to put my life-long revulsion of fessenjoon aside and try to make it myself – and like it, too!

Obviously my blog is called Bread Butter and Bacon, not Bread Butter and Fessenjoon, so one of the obvious ingredients in this dish is going to be bacon. Considering that this is a traditional dish, I will only be using the highest quality halal/kosher bacon money can buy. Anything less would be insulting to a dish held in such high regard by S&F. With that said, I’ll be using my usual Kirkland bacon.

I could have asked my mother for the recipe, but I would probably never have heard the end of her complaining about my sudden change of heart.

I really, really do not like fessenjoon.

So instead I do what I always do, google the recipe and follow the one that has the least amount of steps and the most amount of pictures. This is where I ended up.

I thought of other ways to make it more fusion-y, but I really couldn’t add any more ingredients to the pot without compromising the sanctity of the dish, so I took ingredients away instead. Here’s how it goes:

Chicken, Bacon, and (Sex &) Fessenjoon

Even though fessenjoon requires very few ingredients, no two people make it the same way. That’s why I decided I shouldn’t follow a recipe either, so I just made up my own way of making it.

The ingredients I used are the following:

  • 300-400g Walnuts
  • 4 Chicken Breasts
  • 1 pack of Bacon
  • Onions
  • 2 cups of Water
  • Pinch of Turmeric
  • Pomegranate Molasses
step1

There’s not many ingredients. The only thing not pictured is the Turmeric I used to boil the chicken with.

The Making of it:

When I make food, I like being able to tweak it along the way so that in the end, when I serve my dish, I’ll know exactly how it tastes. Stew too salty? I just add some potatoes. Too spicy? Maybe some yogurt can help.

Making fessenjoon for the first time was like betting on a bad hand of poker…

one where you dig yourself into a deeper and deeper hole with every ingredient you add. At no point did I know how it tasted or would taste in a couple of minutes, which I hated. So here’s how things went down.

Cutting the onions and browning them was business as usual, and I must admit that I hadn’t cried so thoroughly in a while. The onions were so potent that I was sobbing for a good 15 minutes, just enough not to add too much salt to my stew. Browning them was also easy and required very little conscious thought.

My pal Babri started crying, too. I think the onions reminded him of that time we got him neutered, like 5 years ago.

My pal Babri started crying, too. I think the onions reminded him of that time we got him neutered, like 5 years ago.

Making the bacon was enjoyable as always. Thanks to one of my previous posts, I had run completely out of bacon, requiring me to go to a store other than Costco where I broke the first rule of bacon-club: don’t buy just any kind of bacon, especially if it’s on sale. I should have realized that Schneider’s bacon was no good based on how soft the package was, but anyway – it turned out alright.

step3

Boiling the chicken was an adventure because I was running out of pots and pans to cook stuff in. Other than that it went as planned. Once I assembled my finished ingredients for the fessenjoon, as you’ll see below, things got very interesting:

That's a whole pack of bacon. If that's not fusion enough, I don't know what is.

That’s a whole pack of bacon. If that’s not fusion enough, I don’t know what is.

Referring back to my poker analogy, up until this point I had a pretty okay hand. No face cards yet, but I was happy. The second I combined everything and added the pomegranate molasses, my hand started filling up with odd cards, none of them amounting to much.

step5

You don’t play ping-pong with a golf ball, so you shouldn’t make fessenjoon with anything less than Iranian pomegranate molasses – even if it’s lower quality.

Almost done, just need to add bacon and chicken to this baby.

Almost done, just need to add bacon and chicken to this baby.

It was exactly at that point when I realized that the reason I may not like fessenjoon is the smell of the cooking pomegranate. It smelled horrible to me. To add insult to injury, I tasted a bit of it before putting it in the stew and it was the tangiest thing I’ve had in my life. Well almost. There was this one time I licked a 9-volt battery and my tongue went numb. It wasn’t quite as bad, but bad enough to draw a comparison.

At this point in the recipe, everybody would add copious amounts of sugar to the stew to make it taste like ‘real’ fessenjoon. No way, man. You couldn’t pay me enough to do that to my stew. That’s another reason why I hate fessenjoon – the sweetness. Like- make up your mind; you wanna be dinner or desert?

Since this is was my baby, I refused to add any sugar to it.

stp

Anyway, my spirits were still high because there was bacon to save the day, so I just shut the lids after adding the bacon and let the stew simmer for as long as it would take for the pomegranate to disappear. If you’re wondering why I made 2 pots, it’s because my friend doesn’t eat bacon and she would probably like fessenjoon. Thoughtful, right?

The fessenjoon was finally ready when the water had turned into a thick, almost paste like stew. When it got to that point it was ready to serve.

The Result:

I’m pleased to say that I actually liked my fessenjoon.

The chicken in it tasted great, and the stew was neither too sweet nor too tangy. The chunkier-than-normal walnuts also added great texture to the dish, and the bacon contributed to the flavor, too.

final

I didn’t eat much of it, though. With every spoonful of rice and fessenjoon I realized that it didn’t taste too different from all the other fessenjoons I’ve eaten and despised over the years. I mean yes, it was catered to my taste, but I neither like walnuts nor pomegranates, both of which combined make up over 50% of the stew. That’s why I gave it all away to my friend Vala, who loved the stew and was more than happy to take it off my hands.

fes

So the real question, as always, is would I make fessenjoon again?

Probably not. For a lack of better words, I just don’t like it. Maybe it’s the combination of ingredients, maybe it’s the ingredients itself – I don’t know. Even after putting in only the things I loved I still couldn’t get myself to eat more than a little bit of it. But I can understand why the S&F team named their blog after it, and it’s the same reason why my blog is named after bacon –

it’s because a life without food is not a life worth living.

fes1

As a fessenjoon connoisseur and borderline fatty, my friend Vala liked the bacon version of the stew much better than the regular one. I did, too. So if you’re interested in spicing up your love life, why not make some Bacon Fessenjoon for your next date and see where the night takes you.

Would you try “bacon fessenjoon?”

Check out Arash’s blog: Bread, Butter, and Bacon – by clicking here!

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Comments

  1. thank you arash for this eye-opening article on how iranian americans cook their fessenjoon. i googled some recipes and looked up some video tutorials on youtube and the results were more or less unanimous, english speaking (typically) iranian americans are simply doing it wrong.

    those of us across the pond are completely unaware of this concept of adding sugar to our fessenjoon. my hypothesis is that perhaps, sometime between 1979 and now, mothers were unable to feed their picky little shah-zadehs and shah-zadeh-khanums the delicious tart flavoured fessenjoon which i grew up eating. to combat their fussiness, it makes sense using western motherly logic that a spoon-full of sugar helps the medicine go down. but it goes without saying, in the american diet there is virtually no food which doesn’t have sugar in it. alternately, it may even have something to do with the pomegranate’s natural sweetness, or lack thereof depending on the yield of that season, but having been to as many mehmoonis as i have, i can assure you that sugar only makes an appearance with the do ghazal brand ceylon tea.

    i’ve seen some heretical cooking in my time; vegetarian fessenjoon with potato and red kidney beans or worse yet, koofteh style meatballs as replacement for the chicken, etc, but with your addition of bacon, i charge you with high heresy against persian culinary culture. in the spirit of the great father (kourosh-e-buzurg) however, i take note of your circumstances (never having been served a real dish of fessenjoon), so your sentence is simply to be given a stern look

    and the rest is to be suspended forthwith.

    for those of you who have looked and haven’t found a proper fessenjoon recipe, this lady in the hijab (talk about heat in the kitchen!) seems to do a pretty legit job of it:

    and remember friends, fessenjoon is meant to be a simple dish with a complex taste. it has far fewer ingredients than you would have imagined as it is the process that makes it what it is. think red wine, it is after all, just grape juice. it’s all about the process.

    sincerely,

    mercury

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