A Great “Pear”ing

In this Vinegar-Braised Chicken and Onions recipe, balsamic vinegar adds the sweetness needed to balance the sharp flavor of red wine vinegar. And speaking of vinegar, we were somewhat skeptical about 1 1/4 cups total, but in the end, we were converted. While the instructions don’t indicate to reduce the cooking liquid in the final step, we decided to do it and thicken the sauce. We suggest you do the same…

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Knowing this recipe was going to produce an ample amount of sauce, Russ made a Valencian rice as one of our sides (mashed potatoes, egg noodles or polenta would work well here also.) Our other dish was an intriguing vegetable recipe previously unbeknownst to us called Roasted Brussels Sprouts with Pears, an unusual combo to say the least.

Pears lend their sweetness to earthy Brussels sprouts in this simple and quick essence-of-fall accompaniment. It would also be good “pear-ed” with salmon or pork. Because we lean toward savory over sweet, we doubled the amount of Dijon mustard to two teaspoons but kept the amount of the maple syrup at one, and the result was just right.

Back to the chicken and onions. You might recall that we strained off some of the garlicky oil from our stuffed mushroom appetizer when visiting Mr. and Mrs. Z the other day. So while cooking the onions for this recipe, Russ used the leftover oil from that dish along with the rendered pancetta fat for a more complex flavor note.

After searing the onions, you add the chicken to the pot skin side down working in batches, and cook, turning until browned on all sides, about 10-15 minutes per batch. This is a very important step, so don’t omit it!

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The pearl onions were boiled and trimmed earlier in the day.

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Pancetta is transferred to a bowl with a slotted spoon.

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Pearl onions brown in pancetta fat and some garlicky oil.

I was busy crafting holiday cookies and candy, when Russ was forming the week’s menu. I didn’t realize until after our food shopping trip that he could have incorporated chicken breasts along with the thighs. I usually prefer the breast meat, so next time we make this, I want to be sure we use both parts of the chicken anatomy… although I have no complaints about the quality of these braised thighs.

Ingredients

  • 2 pounds cipolline or pearl onions
  • Kosher salt
  • 3 tablespoons olive oil
  • 8 ounces pancetta (Italian bacon), cut into 1/4-inch pieces
  • 4 garlic cloves, peeled, crushed
  • 5 pounds skin-on bone-in chicken pieces (breasts, thighs, and/or legs; breasts halved crosswise)
  • Freshly ground black pepper
  • 3/4 cup balsamic vinegar
  • 3/4 cup red wine vinegar
  • 2 cups low-sodium chicken broth
  • 1/2 cup golden raisins
  • 2 bay leaves

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Chicken pieces are generously seasoned with salt and pepper.

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Chicken is simmered, partially covered, until tender. We use a wooden spatula to prop the lid slightly.

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After about 40 minutes the chicken is tender and ready to be moved from the pot so that the sauce can be reduced.

Directions

  1. Cook onions in a large pot of boiling salted water until tender, 5-8 minutes. Drain and let cool. Trim root ends; peel.
  2. Meanwhile, heat oil in a large heavy pot over medium heat. Add pancetta to pot and cook, stirring occasionally, until fat is rendered and pancetta is brown, 8-10 minutes. Using a slotted spoon, transfer pancetta to a large bowl.
  3. Add onions to same pot and cook, stirring occasionally, until beginning to brown, 8-10 minutes. Add garlic and cook, stirring often, until fragrant, about 3 minutes. Transfer onions and garlic to bowl with pancetta.
  4. Season chicken with salt and pepper. Working in batches, add chicken to pot skin side down and cook, turning, until browned on all sides, 10-15 minutes per batch; transfer to bowl with onions.
  5. Carefully drain fat from pot and return to medium-high heat. Add both vinegars to pot and bring to a boil, stirring and scraping up any browned bits from bottom of pot. Add broth, raisins, bay leaves, and reserved chicken, pancetta, onions, and garlic to pot. Bring to a boil, reduce heat, and simmer, partially covered, until chicken is fork-tender, 35-40 minutes.
  6. Using a slotted spoon, transfer chicken and onions to a large platter. Skim fat from cooking liquid and discard. Remove bay leaves, and season sauce with salt and pepper. Spoon sauce over chicken and onions.

Recipe found on Bon Appétit by Melissa Hamilton and Christopher Hirsheimer

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We ladled the thickened sauce over the chicken, veggies and rice.

Roasted Brussels Sprouts with Pears

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Ingredients

  • 1 large pear, cored and cut into 1-inch chunks
  • 1 lb. Brussels sprouts, trimmed and halved
  • 2 Tbs. extra-virgin olive oil
  • Kosher salt and freshly ground pepper
  • 1 tsp. apple cider vinegar
  • 1 tsp. pure maple syrup
  • 1 tsp. Dijon mustard

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Chunks of pear and halved sprouts are tossed with oil and seasonings.

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The pear and sprouts are roasted on a foil-lined baking sheet for about 25 minutes until they obtain a nice char.

Directions

  1. Heat the oven to 450°F.
  2. On a large rimmed baking sheet, toss the pear and Brussels sprouts with the olive oil and a pinch each of salt and pepper. Roast until tender, about 25 minutes.
  3. In a small bowl, combine the apple cider vinegar, maple syrup, and Dijon mustard. Toss with the sprouts and pears.

by Genevieve Ko from Fine Cooking

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