POMEGRANATES have suddenly made an appearance in the supermarkets and smarter fruit stalls. I bought some and they sat around looking very decorative until they really needed to be used. The trouble was I wasn't at all sure what to do with them. Jane Grigson's Fruit Book and Margaret Shalda's Legendary Cuisine of Persia had exotic recipes for fesenjan, a famous Persian dish based on pomegranate juice and ground walnuts, which sounded perfect. The recipe below is a mix from both books. I used duck (chicken or lamb can be substituted), and the result was delicious. The sauce is intense, dark and rich, with a sweet-sour piquancy. DUCK FESENJAN 1 large duck 1/2 onion for stock 200g walnuts & 1 tbs corn oil 1 large onion finely sliced 4 pomegranates Juice of 1/2 lemon Salt and black pepper Joint the duck into four pieces. Trim away excess fat and season with salt and pepper. Make about 1/2 litre stock with the backbone, wing tips, neck, heart, gizzards and 1/2 onion. Chop or process the walnuts finely but not to a powder. Fry the walnuts with the oil over very slow heat, stirring constantly until it turns darkish brown. Don't allow the walnuts to burn or the sauce will be bitter. In a large pan (a high-sided sauteuse is perfect), fry the duck, skin side down, on medium heat until the fat is rendered and the skin shrinks and browns. Turn the pieces of duck, pour away the excess fat and, in the same pan, fry the onions till soft and golden. Discard the skin from the duck, then return the duck to the pan with the onions and stock. Simmer slowly for 30 minutes. Add the walnuts and simmer quietly for another half an hour. As the duck is cooking, remove the red seeds from the pomegranates. Reserve a couple of tablespoons for garnish. Using a sieve and something like a pestle, press all the juice from the seeds. This is time-consuming but will give you 1 cup of bright red juice. In a saucepan, reduce this juice by half and add it to the duck. Simmer slowly for another 30 minutes or until the duck is tender. The sauce should be very dark and thick. Adjust the salt and add the lemon juice. Present on a platter sprinkled with the reserved pomegranate seeds, they look like rubies against the almost black sauce. Serve with basmati rice.