Chicken Breasts with Pears and Zinfandel

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Wolfgang Puck Try substituting pears for apples in any of your favorite recipes. Or use them to add wonderful flavor to savory dishes such as my recipe here, in which the pears are poached with red wine, sugar and black pepper to make a sweet-and-spicy accompaniment to sauteed chicken breasts. Take one taste, and you won't be likely ever again to neglect pears.

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Ingredients

  • 1 bottle Zinfandel
  • 1/2-C. sugar
  • 1 tsp. whole black peppercorns
  • 6 Bosc pears, peeled, halved, and cored
  • 4 Tbs. vegetable oil
  • 6 bone-in skin-on chicken breast halves
  • Salt
  • Freshly ground black pepper
  • 4 shallots, minced
  • 1 C. homemade or good quality canned chicken broth
  • 4 oz. unsalted butter, cut into small pieces

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Directions

Preheat the oven to 400 degrees. In a saucepan, stir together the wine, sugar, and whole peppercorns. Add the pear halves. Bring to a simmer over medium heat; then, reduce the heat to maintain a bare simmer and poach the pears until tender but still firm, about 20 minutes. Meanwhile, over medium-high heat, heat an ovenproof skillet large enough to hold all the chicken breasts in a single layer. Season the chicken breast halves all over with salt and pepper.

Carefully place the chicken breasts skin side down in the hot oil and sauté, undisturbed, until their skin is golden brown, 5 to 7 minutes. With a long-handled fork, carefully turn the chicken breasts over, skin side up. Transfer the skillet to the preheated oven and roast until the chicken is cooked through, its juices running clear when the meat is pierced with a fork or a skewer at its thickest part, about 15 minutes. When the pears are done, set them aside, carefully removing and reserving 1/2 of the wine in which they cooked.

Transfer the chicken breasts from the skillet to a heatproof dish and cover them with heavy-duty aluminum foil to keep them warm. Place the skillet over moderate heat, add the shallots to the skillet, and sauté until the shallots are lightly browned, 3 to 5 minutes. Add to the skillet the 1/2 C. of wine you reserved and stir and scrape to deglaze the pan deposits. Add the stock or broth, raise the heat, and boil, stirring occasionally, until 1/2 C. of liquid remains, 5 to 7 minutes. Place a fine-meshed strainer over a small saucepan. Pour the sauce from the skillet through the strainer into the pan.

Over medium-low heat, whisk in the butter 1 piece at a time. Taste the sauce and adjust the seasonings with salt and pepper. With a slotted spoon, transfer the pear halves to a cutting board. With a small, sharp knife, cut each pear half lengthwise into 3 equal wedges. To serve, spoon a thin bed of sauce on each serving plate. Place a chicken breast in the center of each plate and arrange three slices of pear on each side. Pass any remaining sauce in a sauceboat.

Yield: 6 servings

(Chef Wolfgang Puck's new TV series, "Wolfgang Puck's Cooking Class," airs Sundays and Wednesdays on the Food Network. Write Wolfgang Puck in care of Tribune Media Services Inc., 2225 Kenmore Ave., Suite 114, Buffalo, NY. 14207.)

©2004 WOLFGANG PUCK WORLDWIDE, INC.

DISTRIBUTED BY TRIBUNE MEDIA SERVICES, INC.

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