Pear and Balsamic Chicken
Up until recently, I was convinced that Bartlett pears were in fact called Barlett Pears, without the “T” in the middle.
I can’t even remember how it is that I eventually came to realize that there was an extra T there, which I’d never, ever seen. It felt weird though, thinking that my whole life, I’d been walking around thinking that one of my favorite fruits in the whole wide world was actually called something that in fact, it was not.
To this day, I still check the spelling sometimes, to make sure that it wasn’t a typo, that one time where an extra “T” jumped at me as if out of nowhere. Even typing these very words, I had to run it by my good friend Google, just to be absolutely certain.
Again, I got confirmation: that yellow fruit that I love so much is indeed called Bartlett, NOT Barlett.
Oh well. T or no T, I still love them just as much, and can’t even begin to understand why it is that I don’t eat them more often. Just like apples, pears are incredibly versatile and can obviously be at the heart of many dessert recipes, but they also do brilliantly in a wide variety of savory dishes. For example, they pair extremely well (haha, no pun intended) with lamb, pork and poultry.
With this Pear and Balsamic Chicken recipe, I chose to bring together a few classic flavor combination, namely pears, pistachios and balsamic vinegar. The resulting dish, despite being fairly easy to make, is truly outstanding as far as gusto is concerned!
I will definitely be adding it to my list of regulars, and I get the feeling that you will, too!
Pat the pieces of chicken real dry, sprinkle them generously on both sides with salt and pepper and then melt some ghee in a large skillet set over high heat.
When the pan is hot enough, add a few pieces of chicken to it, nice-looking side down, and cook them without moving them for 3 to 4 minutes, until they turn opaque about half way up and a nice golden crust forms. Flip the pieces of chicken and cook them for another 2 to 3 minutes, until that side becomes golden, too; remove the par-cooked pieces of chicken to a plate.
When doing this, it’s important that you avoid overcrowding the pan. Make sure that there is plenty of space around each piece of chicken for air to circulate freely, about an inch or so. Otherwise, your chicken will start to boil as opposed to brown.
I’m guessing that you will have to work in 2 to 3 batches, unless you use one of them ultra gigantic paella pan. And then, I fail to see how you would cover that monster later when you have to…
So yeah… I think it’s best you stick with a standard skillet and work in batches.
Once all the pieces of chicken have been cooked, put the skillet back over the heat source, lower the heat to medium and add the pears.
Don’t worry about all that gunk at the bottom of the pan, that’s flavor for ya… we’re going to deglaze that in a little bit.
For now, sauté the pears for about 30 seconds, until slightly softened and caramelized. Don’t over do things here for pears are very fragile and you don’t want them turning to mush on you. A few seconds is all they need.
Once caramaliezed, remove the pears to a plate.
Now time to get all those bits and pieces that attached to the bottom of the pan and use them to our advantage!
Add the chicken stock, fresh pressed apple cider, balsamic vinegar, mustard and spices to the skillet and mix with a whisk to combine, making sure to scrape the bottom of the pan as you go so you set every last bit of flavor free.
Now return the chicken to the pan, cover loosely and allow the meat to simmer in the hot liquid for about 15 minutes, flipping the pieces once or twice.
When the chicken is fully cooked, make a slurry by diluting the tapioca starch in a tablespoon of water and pour that right into the hot sauce.
Delicately whisk it in (again, unless you used one of them gigantic pans, you may have to get some of that chicken out of the way to do that… just temporarily move a few of those pieces on top of the others to free up a little bit of space, where you’ll be able to whisk to your slurry’s heart’s content) and then let that sauce simmer for at least one minute, until thickened.
Return the caramelized pears to the pan, kill the heat, cover and let stand for about 5 minutes.
You just want to reheat the pears here, so don’t go overboard with mixing and all. Again, pears are very delicate, so just dump them in there really and let the heat do its thing.
Now transfer your finished dish to a serving plate and garnish with chopped pistachio and a drizzle of reduced balsamic, if desired.
For an additional kick, serve with optional crumbled Roquefort, Gorgonzola or Danish Blue Cheese. Now I chose not to add the cheese directly to the dish because not everyone cares for the intense pungency of blue cheese, and also too, well, not everyone does dairy, period.
If you do happen to be a fan of blue cheese, though, please, do yourself a favor and throw a few crumbled pieces right over this already exquisite chicken dish.
‘Cuz honestly, and I think you’ll agree with me: it totally belongs there!
Pear and Balsamic Chicken
- 1 tbsp ghee
- 18 boneless skinless chicken thighs , (about 1.5kg | 3.25lbs total)
- Salt and pepper to taste
- 2 bartlett pears, ripe but not too ripe, cored and cut into thick slices
- 1 tbsp tapioca starch
- 1 tbsp water
- Chopped raw shelled pistachios
- Balsamic vinegar reduction*
- Roquefort Cheese, crumbled
- Pat the pieces of chicken real dry and then sprinkle them generously with salt and pepper.
- Melt the ghee in a large, skillet set over high heat. When the pan is hot enough, add a few pieces of chicken, nice-looking side down, and cook them without moving them for 3 to 4 minutes, until they turn opaque about half way up and develop a nice golden crust. Flip the pieces of chicken and cook them for another 2 to 3 minutes, until golden. Remove to a plate.
- Note that you want to avoid overcrowding the pan and need to make sure that there is plenty of space around each piece of chicken for air to circulate freely, about an inch or so. Chances are you will have to cook your chicken in 2 to 3 batches.
- Once all the pieces of chicken have been cooked, put the skillet back over the heat source, lower the heat to medium and add the pears. Sauté them for about 30 seconds, until softened and slightly caramelized. Remove to a plate
- Add the chicken stock, fresh pressed apple cider, balsamic vinegar, mustard and spices to the skillet and mix with a whisk until well combined and the bottom of the pan has been completely deglazed.
- Return the chicken to the pan, cover and allow the meat to simmer in the hot liquid for about 15 minutes, flipping it once or twice.
- Dilute tapioca starch in 1 tbsp of water and pour that in the hot sauce. Delicately whisk it in (move some of the pieces of chicken out of the way to free up a little bit of space up if you have to) and let that sauce simmer for at least one minute, until thickened.
- Return the pears to the pan, kill the heat, cover and let stand for about 5 minutes, just to reheat the pears.
- Transfer to a serving dish, garnish with chopped pistachio and drizzle with reduced balsamic, if desired.
- For an additional kick, serve with optional crumbled Roquefort, Gorgonzola or Danish Blue Cheese.