Friday, June 26, 2009
POM wonderful is....wonderful!
A few weeks ago, the nice folks at POM Wonderful (who follow my blog) kindly sent me some of their pomegranate juice to try and review. Note that I said this happened a few weeks ago....with apologies to the POM people, I would have posted sooner but must sheepishly report that my boyfriend loved the juice so much that he drank it ALL in a few days and I had to go out and buy more. Silly rabbit.
If you're not familiar with POM Wonderful, it's delicious 100% pomegranate juice, not made with fillers or preservatives. Prior to this, I had only known about its health properties, but had not tried it yet because it was pricey. I love fresh pomegranates, and am not allergic to them, so was looking forward to drinking and cooking with it as well. The juice is very fresh tasting, and has a considerably thicker texture than juices made from concentrate. It tastes healthy but not in a bad way -- not very sweet, fairly tart and full-bodied. It has been researched to be helpful for heart health, has a low glycemic index (good for diabetics) and has more antioxidants than red wine. All good.
My man thought it was too concentrated to drink as is, so he set about figuring out ways to mix it. At first he drank it with water over ice, then drank it with Seven Up and ice, then ended up replacing his cranberry/vodka cocktail with pomegranate juice. He's now a big fan.
As for me, because of its body and unique taste, I tried thinking of ways to use it in cooking. In the past, I've used a pomegranate/cherry juice as a replacement for beef broth in a meat sauce, which turned out well, but I wanted to expand a little further. So I made an Alton Brown pomegranate syrup recipe to use as a sauce to go with turkey. Yummy -- even though I overcooked it and it turned into candy when it cooled. However, the best surprise came when I used it in a recipe from Susan Feniger and Mary Sue Milliken (the Two Hot Tamales) in place of wine to poach pears. I'm allergic to alcohol and also to sulfites, so cooking with red wine is touchy with me under the best circumstances. No more! These turned out gorgeously -- beautiful color, a perfect balance of flavors, with a little spiciness in these smooth cool fruits. These are elegant enough for a dinner party, yet super easy to make. POM also has recipes on their Web site, www.pomwonderful.com.
I'll continue to try to incorporate pomegranate juice into my cooking. Recipes for both of these here:
from Alton Brown
4 cups pomegranate juice
1/2 cup sugar
1 tablespoon freshly squeezed lemon juice (I used champagne vinegar)
Place the pomegranate juice, sugar and lemon juice in a 4-quart saucepan set over medium heat. Cook, stirring occasionally, until the sugar has completely dissolved. Once the sugar has dissolved, reduce the heat to medium-low and cook until the mixture has reduced to 1 1/2 cups, approximately 50 minutes. It should be the consistency of syrup. Remove from the heat and allow to cool in the saucepan for 30 minutes. Transfer to a glass jar and allow to cool completely before covering and storing in the refrigerator for up to 6 months.
Pears Stewed in Pomegranate Syrup
c.1997, M.S. Milliken & S. Feniger, all rights reserved
2 1/2 cups pomegranate juice
1/2 cup sugar
3 large pears
1 cinnamon stick
1/4 teaspoon ground allspice
Sweet yogurt cream, or whipped cream (I used cool whip!)
Toasted, chopped hazelnuts, for garnish
Combine pomegranate juice and sugar in a saucepan. Peel, halve and core the pears, and drop them into the pomegranate juice mixture. Add the cinnamon stick, cloves and allspice, cover the pan, and cook the pears gently for 45 minutes to 1 hour, until they are tender.
Strain the syrup, discarding the cinnamon and cloves. Let pears cool in the liquid, then transfer pears to a bowl. Boil the liquid until reduced to 1 cup, about 20 minutes. Pour the syrup over the pears and chill.
To serve, drizzle a serving platter or individual plates with the syrup, place a pear half on each plate, drizzle with more syrup. Serve with a dollop of sweet yogurt cream and sprinkle with the toasted hazelnuts.