About 75 percent of all the pears grown in the United States are Bartletts, but this autumnal recipe calls for a couple of the squat and sweet Anjou variety, shown in the accompanying photo. The skin of a ripe Anjou is matte; if your pears are shiny, place them in a paper bag for a day or two to ripen.
Serve with couscous or steamed/sauteed baby bok choy.
- 2 (8 ounces) boneless, skinless chicken breast halves
- 2 medium Anjou pears
- 2 tablespoons unsalted butter
- 1/2 to 3/4 teaspoon cayenne pepper
- 2 tablespoons minced tarragon leaves (may substitute 1 teaspoon dried tarragon)
- 2 teaspoons balsamic vinegar
- 1 1/2 tablespoons Dijon-style mustard, or to taste
- Freshly ground black pepper
Preheat the oven to 375 degrees.
Place the chicken breast halves between 2 pieces of plastic wrap and pound to an even thickness of 1/2 to 3/4 inch. Cut each one in half, creating 4 evenly sized portions. Peel and core the pears; cut into 8 slices each. Set aside.
Melt the butter in a large, ovenproof skillet over medium heat. Add the cayenne pepper to taste, the tarragon, balsamic vinegar, mustard and salt and pepper to taste, stirring to combine. Add the chicken and quickly turn over so that both sides are well coated. Remove from the heat and arrange the pear slices around the chicken. Transfer to the oven and bake for about 15 minutes, or just until the chicken is cooked through. Transfer the chicken to a cutting board; cut so that each piece fans into 4 or 5 slices, and place on individual plates. Divide the pears and sauce equally; serve hot.
Adapted from "Pears," by Linda West Eckhardt (Chronicle, 1996).
Tested by Bonnie S. Benwick.
E-mail questions to the Food Section at email@example.com.