On Rosh Hashanah we make blessings for the year to come, often employing food puns. Chosen foods like pomegranates, apples, leeks, and dates symbolize a wish or blessing for prosperity and health in the coming year. The food’s significance is most often based on a pun of that food’s name.
During the Rosh Hashanah meal, each food is held up, blessed, and eaten as if to personally ingest or take in those good wishes. Of pomegranates we say, “May we be as full of mitzvot [commandments] as the pomegranate is full of seeds.” Of leeks (karti) we say, “May it be Your will, God, that our enemies be cut off. (Karti resembles yikartu, the word for “cut off.”) This recipe includes both pomegranates and leeks, giving you a tasty way to enjoy both foods and the blessings they bring.
I advocate using a whole chicken, because it makes for juicier and more tender meat, and has the added benefit of being cost-effective.
2 cups Pom (or similar) pomegranate juice
2 Tablespoons corn or potato starch
1 large bunch leeks, cleaned well and sliced into rounds
1-2 heads heads fennel, sliced into wedges (reserve fronds/tops and roughly chop)
1/4 bunch bunch tarragon, chopped
3/4 cup honey
2 Tablespoons balsamic vinegar
2 Tablespoons olive oil
Preheat the oven to 350F.
Remove the pomegranate seeds and discard the skin*. Place the chicken in a roasting pan and sprinkle the leeks, fennel and 1/3 of the pomegranate seeds around, over it and inside the crevice. Combine the salt, pepper, olive oil and most of the tarragon and fennel fronds and in a bowl and rub it all over the chicken. Mix remaining wet ingredients in the same bowl, then whisk in the corn or potato starch until smooth. Pour over the chicken and vegetables and roast for about an hour and a half or until the skin is crispy, and when pierced with a knife, the juices of the chicken run clear. Use the rest of the pomegranates seeds as a gorgeous colorful garnish together with the extra tarragon and fennel fronds.
Pronounced: roshe hah-SHAH-nah, also roshe ha-shah-NAH, Origin: Hebrew, the Jewish new year.