Bay Leaf is harvested from the Laurel tree (laurus nobilis) and is noted for its distinctive fragrance when cooked. It is one of these ingredients where there is debate as to whether fresh or dried is the superior product.
It's main use is in slow cooked dishes but be warned, it is best to use them sparingly, one or two leaves at the most otherwise they can give the dish a bitter taste.
It's this use that lead me to look through the pages of the Secrets of Slow Cooking by Liana Kristoff where I eventually came upon a dish called Fesenjen - this is a Persian dish of chicken cooked in a pomegranate and walnut sauce.
Just to be different, I haven't made it in a slow cooker.
Chicken in Pomegranate and Walnut Sauce (Fesenjen)
4 skinless, boned chicken thighs (about 600 grams)
1 red onion, sliced finely
2 small bay leaves
2 garlic cloves, sliced finely
200 grams walnuts, roughly chopped
1/3 cup pomegranate molasses
Cut the thighs into larger, bite sized pieces.
Heat a little olive oil in a heavy-based pot and sear the chicken pieces in batches until browned. Set to one side.
In the same pot, add in the onions, garlic and bay leaf and saute gently until softened - tip in the walnuts and stir well, cook until golden.
Return the chicken to the pan and pour in the pomegranate molasses and enough water to almost cover the ingredients. Taste the sauce - if you feel it is too sour you can add a little sugar to take the edge off but you should be aiming to retain some sourness.
Simmer for about 20-30 minutes, until the chicken has cooked through and the sauce has reduced and thickened.
If you feel that the sauce is too thin by the time the chicken is done, then remove the chicken, turn up the heat and allow the sauce to simmer rapidly. This should eliminate the excess liquid.
Return the chicken to the pan, lower the heat and cook until the chicken has heated through.
Serve with rice or couscous for a complete meal and if fresh Pomegranates are in season then finish it off with a scatter of Pomegranate seeds.