Bruschetta Stuffed Chicken

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Today’s recipe is for Bruschetta Stuffed Chicken. In the past I’ve been weary of cooking chicken breasts, often times they take forever in the oven and I’m worried about drying out the chicken. But recently I was inspired by this chicken recipe, and I thought, why not just blast them on high heat? So, I gave it a try and presto, I got moist chicken breasts that took about a half hour in the oven.

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That being said I nee you to bear in mind, when you make this in your own kitchen that the cooking times and the amount of filling you will need is going to vary depending on the size of the chicken breasts. Mine happenend to be pretty big, so if you have some that are on the smaller side they will most definately take less time to bake.

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One more thing, this recipe is great for making ahead of time. Stuffing the chicken and letting it set, enhances the flavor the longer the filling has a chance to sit and let the flavors meld together. I even find that the leftovers taste even better than when I cook them for the first time.

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Bruschetta Stuffed Chicken

Ingredients for Stuffing:

  • 1  tomato, medium sided, diced
  • 3 cloves of garlic, minced
  • 1 shallot, diced
  • 1/4 c grated cheese (Parmesean, Romano, or Asiago, or a blend of the 3)
  • 1 bunch of fresh basil

Ingredients for crumb coating

  • 1/4 tsp pepper
  • 1/2 tsp salt
  • 1/4 c grated cheese
  • 1/3 c breadcrumbs, unseasoned
  • 3 chicken breasts

Directions:

Preheat your oven to 400 degrees.

Assemble all of your ingredients for the filling into a small mixing bowl and set aside.

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Spray a baking sheet or pan with cooking spray and set aside. Butterfly the chicken breasts. I rarely do a nice job on this, so don’t worry if you butcher it a bit, they will still be tasty. Just make sure there is some semblence of a pocket to put the filling in.

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Combine the ingredients for the crumb coating (except chicken) on a plate. Take the butterflied chicken breasts and coat the outside in the breadcrumb mixture.

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Place the chicken breasts on the prepared cooking pan and spoon 1/3 of the tomato basil mixture into the pocket of the chicken. Repeat this process with all the chicken breasts.

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If I have any left over breadcrumb mixture, I sprinkle it on top of the chicken and pat some more into the sides of the breasts.

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Roast in the oven for 30-35 minutes (depending on the side of your chicken breasts). Allow the chicken to rest for 5-10 minutes before eating, this is important, because this helps the chicken breasts retain their moisture.

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Buon Appetito!

Can’t get enough of homemade Italian food? Check out my articles on homemade pasta sauce and homemade meatballs.

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Bruschetta Stuffed Chicken

Ingredients:

For the stuffing:

  • 1  tomato, medium sized, diced
  • 3 cloves of garlic, minced
  • 1 shallot, diced
  • 1/4 c grated cheese (Parmesan, Romano, or Asiago, or a blend of the 3)
  • 1 bunch of fresh basil

For the crumb coating:

  • 1/4 tsp pepper
  • 1/2 tsp salt
  • 1/4 c grated cheese
  • 1/3 c bread crumbs, unseasoned
  • 3 chicken breasts

Directions:

Preheat your oven to 400 degrees.Assemble all of your ingredients for the filling into a small mixing bowl and set aside.

Spray a baking sheet or pan with cooking spray and set aside. Butterfly the chicken breasts. I rarely do a nice job on this, so don’t worry if you butcher it a bit, they will still be tasty. Just make sure there is some semblance of a pocket to put the filling in.

Combine the ingredients for the crumb coating (except chicken) on a plate. Take the butterflied chicken breasts and coat the outside in the breadcrumb mixture.

Place the chicken breasts on the prepared cooking pan and spoon 1/3 of the tomato basil mixture into the pocket of the chicken. Repeat this process with all the chicken breasts.

If I have any left over breadcrumb mixture, I sprinkle it on top of the chicken and pat some more into the sides of the breasts.

Roast in the oven for 30-35 minutes (depending on the side of your chicken breasts). Allow the chicken to rest for 5-10 minutes before eating, this is important, because this helps the chicken breasts retain their moisture.

Vanilla Bavarian

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Today’s recipe comes from this big ol’ cookbook, I  Know How to Cook by Ginette Mathiot. It’s an English translation of what is basically the encyclopedia of French cooking. I both like and dislike this book. I like how much it includes and the different variations of recipes, what I dislike is how short the recipes are.

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Some of these recipes are rather technical, it being French cooking and all, and I find myself wishing for more instruction. I often jump into a recipe not entirely certain it will turn out or if I’m doing it right. Today’s recipe is no exception. However, my attempt was successful, and I have tried to fill in the gaps where I wish the original recipe had.

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Today’s recipe is Vanilla Bavarian (Creme Bavaroise A La Vinille), contrary to what the name says, this is not a recipe for Bavarian creme. This is essentially a creme anglaise (the custard used in creme brulee) that has been thickened. Trust me, you’re going to love it.  A decadent dessert, worth the effort, and perfect with fresh berries.

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Vanilla Bavarian

From I Know How to Cook by Ginette Mathiot

Ingredients:

  • 2 packets of unflavored Knox gelatin
  • 1 vanilla bean
  • 2 c whole milk
  • 1/4 c granulated sugar
  • 6 egg yolks
  • 1 c heavy cream

Directions:

First separate your eggs. Put the egg yolks in a bowl that can be used in a double boiler. What to do with all of those egg whites? I freeze mine individually in cupcake tins so that I can use them for other recipes in the future.

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Next get the gelatin set up; empty the three packets into a small bowl. Add 3 tablespoons of hot water. Give it a quick stir with a fork to combine and then set aside. Wash the fork immediately (trust me).

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Now it’s time to start making the creme anglaise. In a medium-sized pot whisk together the milk, sugar, and seeds from the vanilla bean. Bring to a simmer. While the milk heats up, whisk the mixture every once in a while to ensure the sugar is dissolved. Now, when I say bring to a simmer, I mean a simmer, not a boil, you do not want to get your milk too hot or it will curddle your egg yolk during the next step. You have been warned.

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Once the milk is simmering, pour it into a tall measuring cup with a spout. Start pouring the milk SLOWLY into the bowl with the egg yolks while whisking the mixture constantly. Continue whisking until the milk and egg yolks are combined and slightly frothy.

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Put the mixture on top of a double boiler over simmering water. Keep that heat low-medium (this will depend on your stove, if you have gas keep it on low, I have gas so I had my temperature set at a medium heat).

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The idea is you want to gradually thicken your creme angliase and do NOT let it boil. Stir the mixture constantly. The creme anglaise is finished when it coats the back of a spoon. Be patient with this one, it can take several minutes depending on your stove.

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Pour the creme anglaise through a fine meshed sieve into a mixing bowl. Add the gelatin to the mixture while it is still hot. If your gelatin is a solid disk like mine was, this is ok, the hot mixture will dissolve it.

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Allow the mixture to come to room temperature. While it is cooling whip the heavy cream until soft peaks form.

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Once the creme anglaise is cool, gently fold the whipped creme into the mixture. Do this slowly, working in batches of 1/3 of the whipped creme at a time.

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Once the mixture is completely combined pour it into a mold. Put into the refrigerator and chill for 3 hours. You could use small individual molds, or one large one like a round cake pan or a bunt pan. You could also put into fancy glasses.

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After 3 hours remove from the mold and serve with fresh berries.

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Vanilla Bavarian

From I Know How to Cook by Ginette Mathiot

Ingredients:

  • 2 packets of unflavored Knox gelatin
  • 1 vanilla bean
  • 2 c whole milk
  • 1/4 c granulated sugar
  • 6 egg yolks
  • 1 c heavy cream

Directions:

First separate your eggs. Put the egg yolks in a bowl that can be used in a double boiler. Next get the gelatin set up; empty the three packets into a small bowl. Add 3 tablespoons of hot water. Give it a quick stir with a fork to combine and then set aside. Wash the fork immediately (trust me).

In a medium-sized pot whisk together the milk, sugar, and seeds from the vanilla bean. Bring to a simmer. While the milk heats up, whisk the mixture every once in a while to ensure the sugar is dissolved. Once the milk is simmering, pour it into a tall measuring cup with a spout. Start pouring the milk SLOWLY into the bowl with the egg yolks while whisking the mixture constantly. Continue whisking until the milk and egg yolks are combined and slightly frothy.

Put the mixture on top of a double boiler over simmering water. Keep that heat low-medium (this will depend on your stove, if you have gas keep it on low, I have gas so I had my temperature set at a medium heat). This will gradually thicken the creme anglaise and do NOT let it boil. Stir the mixture constantly. The creme anglaise is finished when it coats the back of a spoon.

Pour the creme anglaise through a fine meshed sieve into a mixing bowl. Add the gelatin to the mixture while it is still hot.

Allow the mixture to come to room temperature. While it is cooling whip the heavy cream until soft peaks form.

Once the creme anglaise is cool, gently fold the whipped cream into the mixture. Do this slowly, working in batches of 1/3 of the whipped cream at a time.

Once the mixture is completely combined pour it into a mold. Put into the refrigerator and chill for 3 hours. You could use small individual molds, or one large one like a round cake pan or a bundt pan. You could also put into fancy glasses.

After 3 hours remove from the mold and serve with fresh berries.

Irish Soda Bread

 

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Happy St. Patrick’s Day everybody! I have got a lovely recipe for you today. This is the recipe for the Irish Soda Bread my Nana made when I was younger. I know, I know, my Nana wasn’t Irish, but she got this recipe from a friend of the family and this recipe is the bomb diggity. (I just wanted to say bomb diggity). BUT, in all seriousness, this recipe is great.  It’s a dense, flavorful bread and to me, the caraway seeds are what really gives this bread such a great flavor so don’t skimp on them.

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The absolute best part about this recipe? It’s super easy. So, open up a Guinness and give it a whirl.

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Irish Soda Bread

Ingredients:

  • 4 c unbleached all-purpose flour
  • 1/4 c granulated sugar
  • 2 tsp baking powder
  • 1/2 tsp baking soda
  • 1/2 tsp salt
  • 1 Tbsp caraway seeds
  • 1 c raisins
  • 2 c buttermilk

Directions:

Preheat your oven to 375 degrees. Generously grease an 8 inch round cake pan. In a large mixing bowl combine all of the dry ingredients (including the raisins) in a bowl with a whisk.

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Create a well in the center of the bowl and add the buttermilk.

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Use a spatula or a spoon to start mixing the ingredients together.

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Once it forms into a sticky dough use your hands to finish the mixing. Be gentle with the dough and do not over mix. It’s a bit messy but a quick process.

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Shape the dough into a round loaf and put into the prepared round pan.

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Bake for 15 minutes, then reduce the temperature to 350 and bake for an additional 60 minutes. The bread is finished when it is lightly browned on top and pulling away from the edge of the pan.

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This bread is excellent toasted and then generously slathered with butter or jam. Store the loaf wrapped tightly in plastic wrap.

Looking for more great St. Patrick’s Day recipes? Check out one of my favorites, Guinness Cupcakes.

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Irish Soda Bread

Ingredients:

  • 4 c unbleached all-purpose flour
  • 1/4 c granulated sugar
  • 2 tsp baking powder
  • 1/2 tsp baking soda
  • 1/2 tsp salt
  • 1 Tbsp caraway seeds
  • 1 c raisins
  • 2 c buttermilk

Directions:

Preheat your oven to 375 degrees. Generously grease an 8 inch round cake pan. In a large mixing bowl combine all of the dry ingredients (including the raisins) in a bowl with a whisk.

Create a well in the center of the bowl and add the buttermilk. Use a spatula or a spoon to start mixing the ingredients together.

Once it forms into a sticky dough use your hands to finish the mixing. Be gentle with the dough and do not over mix. It’s a bit messy but a quick process.

Shape the dough into a round loaf and put into the prepared round pan.

Bake for 15 minutes, then reduce the temperature to 350 and bake for an additional 60 minutes. The bread is finished when it is lightly browned on top and pulling away from the edge of the pan.

This bread is excellent toasted and then generously slathered with butter or jam. Store the loaf wrapped tightly in plastic wrap.

My Favorite Sandwich

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I don’t know about you, but it’s starting to feel like spring around here. The gloomy weather typical to this area is starting to lift and the Pacific Northwest is actually starting to feel like a great place to live with a mild climate. Without the rain, on clear days I can see the Olympic mountains and I start thinking about all the things I want to do outside as the weather gets better and better. One of the things I want to do some more of is hiking. Low-level hiking. I mean I want to see nature but I don’t want it to be super hard. That’s just kind of how I roll. Anywho, this weather and dreaming of outdoor activities makes me think of portable lunches that I could bring to said activities. Or a picnic. Or just lunch on a Tuesday. This is my go-to sandwich. It’s on the lighter side, but still very filling, and most importantly super delicious.

I present to you the turkey-apple-cheddar sandwich with honey mustard! It’s a rather mighty turkey sandwich. And honestly, I can’t take credit for this. I discovered this sandwich at Rebecca’s cafe, a restaurant across the street from where I used to work when I was living in Boston. I had this several years ago and fell in love with it. I’ve been recreating it ever since.

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The heart of this sandwich is really the Granny Smith Apple slices. No other apple will do! It provides a tart apple flavor with a crisp texture. Also, the honey mustard makes all the difference. No other mustard will do! This sandwich is a delicate formula that cannot be altered or the fate of the entire universe will be in jeopardy!

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I’m just kidding. It’s just a delicious combination, give it a try and let me know what you think.

Start out with some hearty whole wheat bread. Next, let’s get some honey mustard on there. I like it on both slices of bread. I’m just that kind of a girl. And by that I mean I can’t stand a dry sandwich. Yuck.

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Now it’s time to add those apples slices I like the slice the apple as pictured below so I get nice large slices and then I eat the rest of the apple with my lunch. Are you packing you lunch for later and want to save the apple for later as well? Dip the extra apple slices into cold water and lemon juice before packing them and they won’t get brown as they sit in your lunch bag waiting for lunch.

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Next comes the turkey slices. I usually put on 4 slices.

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Next add a few slices of sharp cheddar.

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And last but note least, and completely optional a few tomato slices. I mean really, what’s a sandwich without some tomato?

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Put the sandwich together and you’re ready to go.

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Turkey Apple Cheddar Sandwich

Ingredients:

  • whole wheat sandwich bread
  • honey mustard
  • 1 Granny Smith Apple
  • sliced turkey
  • sharp cheddar cheese
  • tomato slices

Directions:

Spread the honey mustard on both slices of bread. Next, assemble the sandwich ith the remaining fixings and enjoy!

The Meatball Formula

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A few weeks ago I shared with you my recipe for pasta sauce. It was a very personal recipe to me which brings back memories of childhood. As much as any one kind of food can be, my homemade pasta sauce is part of who I am. It makes me think of my Nana, whom I was very close with, it makes me think of my Mom who taught me how to make it, and mostly it makes me think of Sunday dinners with family sitting around the table. As with my pasta sauce recipe, my homemade meatballs have a similar effect. To me a bowl of pasta and sauce with meatballs is home. The ultimate comfort food. And most importantly a part of my past. A page in my family history.

So with that, I introduce to you my recipe for meatballs aka the meatball formula. I’m calling this a formula because this seems to be the perfect ratios for what I consider the ultimate meatball. The formula calls for 3 lbs of ground meat. I like to use ground beef and ground turkey in a 2:1 ratio, so I typically use 2 lb of ground beef and 1 lb of ground turkey.

Now, keep in mind you can easily modify this; for example, you can use 1 lb of ground pork or veal in the place of turkey. Did my Nana make meatballs with ground turkey? No. Did she bake them in the oven? No, she fried them. But this is how I make my meatballs, so feel free to put your own spin on it.

Similarly to when I make pasta sauce I make big batches of meatballs, and freeze them so that I can defrost a few at a time as needed. The meatball formula can be doubled to make an army of meatballs, or reduced to make an amount appropriate to your needs. But, as I’ve said before, it’s my blog so I get to do it my way.

The Meatball Formula

Ingredients:

  • 2 lb ground beef
  • 1 lb ground turkey
  • 3 eggs
  • 3 cups breadcrumbs
  • 3 cups Romano cheese, grated
  • 3 cloves of garlic, minced
  • 1 bunch of parsley, chopped
  • salt, a generous pinch
  • pepper, a pinch

Directions:

Combine all ingredients one large mixing bowl.

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Mix with hands until all ingredients are evenly distributed. It’s messy, and cold but get in there! This my favorite way to cook-with my hands!

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Once the mixture is evenly mixed it’s time to start forming meatballs.

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Roll the mixture into 1 1/2 inch balls and place on lightly greased baking pans.

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I also like to make a few dozen mini (1/2 in) meatballs to add to soups.

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These mini meatballs do not need to be browned before freezing or cooking. Just toss them into soups as they are boiling.  Aren’t they adorable?

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Preheat oven to 375  and bake the meatballs for 10 minutes. Remove the meatballs from the oven and flip the meatballs over so that all sides brown evenly. Bake for an additional 8-10 minutes, the meatballs should be lightly browned on the outside.

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If freezing the meatballs, first freeze them on the baking pan, then after 12-24 hours transfer them to a large freezer bag. This way they will not stick together and you can easily remove as many as you need for meals.

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If cooking let the meatballs cook with sauce for a few minutes to ensure they are cooked all the way through. These meatballs make delicious meatball subs or sliders, or are perfect to go with some pasta and sauce.

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I hope you enjoy these meatballs as much as I do! Buon appetito!

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Baked Italian Meatballs

Ingredients:

  • 2 lb ground beef
  • 1 lb ground turkey
  • 3 eggs
  • 3 cups bread crumbs
  • 3 cups Romano cheese, grated
  • 3 cloves of garlic, minced
  • 1 bunch of parsley, chopped
  • salt, a generous pinch
  • pepper, a pinch

Directions:

Combine all ingredients one large mixing bowl. Mix with hands until all ingredients are evenly distributed.

Once the mixture is evenly mixed roll the mixture into 1 1/2 inch balls and place on lightly greased baking pans.

Preheat oven to 375 degrees and bake the meatballs for 10 minutes. Remove the meatballs from the oven and flip the meatballs over so that all sides brown evenly. Bake for an additional 8-10 minutes, the meatballs should be lightly browned on the outside.

If freezing the meatballs, first freeze them on the baking pan, then after 12-24 hours transfer them to a large freezer bag. This way they will not stick together and you can easily remove as many as you need for meals.

If cooking let the meatballs cook with sauce for a few minutes to ensure they are cooked all the way through.

Brown Chicken Stock aka Liquid Gold

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Alright folks, I’ve shared with you some of my favorite chicken recipes (Roasted Chicken Thighs and Spatchcock Roasted Chicken), but don’t throw away those bones! In fact, I always have a “bone bag” in my freezer and and as we make these dishes the discarded bones go into this freezer bag rather than the trash. Once I have a full gallon-sized zip lock bag or more and a rainy day with no plans I make this chicken stock.

Chicken stock is one of the staples I like to have in my kitchen at all times, and if you’ve got the time (and the bones) this one is seriously worth it, it really is liquid gold in my kitchen.

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Brown Chicken Stock

adapted from Bon Appetite MagazineBrown Chicken Stock

Ingredients:

  • 5 lb chicken bones
  • cooking spray
  • 1 large onion, diced
  • 2 carrots (or 16 baby carrots), peeled, rinsed, and diced
  • 2 celery stocks, diced
  • 2 Tbsp tomato paste
  • handful of black peppercorns
  • 10 parsley sprigs
  • fresh thyme
  • fresh sage
  • 2-3 bay leaves

Directions:

Adjust the racks in the oven so one is on the bottom third of the oven, and the other is in the top third of the oven. Preheat the oven to 450 degrees. Arrange the bones in a single layer in a large roasting pan.

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(I know it looks kind of gross but hey, sometimes cooking ain’t pretty!)

Coat a baking pan with cooking spray and place the diced vegetables in it. Set aside. I do not recommend using a 9×9 pan as pictured above, the vegetables are too crowded and take to long to roast.

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Roast the bones for 15 minutes on the bottom rack of the oven. After 15 minutes place the vegetables on the top rack of the oven and roast for 20 minutes (let the bones continue roasting in the oven). Remove the vegetables from the oven and coat them in the tomato paste.

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Return to the oven and roast for an additional 10-15 minutes. The bones and vegetables should be a nice deep brown color (and smell amazing).

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Place the bones and the roasted vegetables into a large pot. While the roasting pan that the bones were in is still hot pour a cup of water in and scrape the brown bits up from the bottom of the pan. Pour the mixture into the pot with the bones and vegetables.

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Add 16 cups of water, and all remaining ingredients to the pot and bring to a boil over high heat. Reduce the heat and allow the mixture to simmer for 3 hours.

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Now for the fun part! Remove the stock from heat and using a slotted spoon remove the solids.

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Once the big pieces are out of the way, strain the stock through a fine mesh sieve.

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Return the stock t0 medium-low heat and simmer for an additional 1 1/2 hours.

Remove the stock from the heat and allow to cool. Once cool, spoon off the excess fat.

The stock will keep in the freezer for up to 3 months or in the refrigerator for 3 days, I like to store it in quart-sized zip lock bags. I typically put about 3-ish cups of stock per a bag and let them freeze flat so that once they are frozen solid I can stack them or stick them in small places in the freezer. To defrost them place the bags in a sink of hot water.

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Brown Chicken Stock

Adapted from Bon Appetit Magazine

Ingredients:

  • 5 lb chicken bones
  • cooking spray
  • 1 large onion, diced
  • 2 carrots (or 16 baby carrots), peeled, rinsed, and diced
  • 2 celery stocks, diced
  • 2 Tbsp tomato paste
  • handful of black peppercorns
  • 10 parsley sprigs
  • fresh thyme
  • fresh sage
  • 2-3 bay leaves

Directions:

Adjust the racks in the oven so one is on the bottom third of the oven, and the other is in the top third of the oven. Preheat the oven to 450 degrees. Arrange the bones in a single layer in a large roasting pan.

Coat a baking pan with cooking spray and place the diced vegetables in it. Set aside. Roast the bones for 15 minutes on the bottom rack of the oven. After 15 minutes place the vegetables on the top rack of the oven and roast for 20 minutes (let the bones continue roasting in the oven). Remove the vegetables from the oven and coat them in the tomato paste. Return to the oven and roast for an additional 10-15 minutes. The bones and vegetables should be a nice deep brown color (and smell amazing).

Place the bones and the roasted vegetables into a large pot. While the roasting pan that the bones were in is still hot pour a cup of water in and scrape the brown bits up from the bottom of the pan. Pour the mixture into the pot with the bones and vegetables.

Add 16 cups of water, and all remaining ingredients to the pot and bring to a boil over high heat. Reduce the heat and allow the mixture to simmer for 3 hours.

Next, remove the stock from heat and using a slotted spoon remove the solids. Once the big pieces are out of the way, strain the stock through a fine mesh sieve. Return the stock to medium-low heat and simmer for an additional 1 1/2 hours.

Remove the stock from the heat and allow to cool. Once cool, spoon off the excess fat.

The stock will keep in the freezer for up to 3 months or in the refrigerator for 3 days, I like to store it in quart-sized zip lock bags.

The Bird is the Word

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It all started this past November a few days before Thanksgiving. First of all, if you don’t already know this, you should; Thanksgiving is my favorite holiday. I love, love, love it. I love all of the cooking/baking/love that goes into it. This year I was able to host my very first Thanksgiving, and even though I’m pretty sure I drove my husband crazy, I loved it. But I was spending so much time focusing on which side dishes to prepare (See: Butternut Squash Mac & Cheese, Roasted Mushrooms, and Buttermilk Biscuits ) that I really kind of forgot the turkey. I know, I know, that’s crazy talk.

So a few day before Thanksgiving, I started looking at different recipes for roasting a turkey. That’s when I came across various claims that spatchcocking a turkey is the fastest and greatest way to roast a turkey. So let’s back up, today’s word of the day is spatchcock. This is a cooking technique for poultry where the back bone is removed, the bird is pressed flat, and then cooked. Basically it’s a fancy word for butterflying a whole bird.

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Let me just say, this blew my mind. I had never heard of it before and I was kind of fascinated by a technique that claimed to cut cooking down significantly and produce a juicy turkey with a crispy outside. But this was days before Thanksgiving, and I was not brave/crazy enough to experiment with this technique for the very first time on Thanksgiving.

Now let’s fast forward to a few weeks ago. My time had come, and I was ready to try this whole spatchcocking thing for myself. I bought a 4 lb chicken, brined it, and gave it a try. OH MY GOODNESS. It was magnificent! It was delicious! It was more than I dreamed it would be. Thankfully my husband called to say he would be working late that night because I almost ate the whole chicken myself. I have no regrets.

So without further ado, I give you my recipe for a fool-proof roasted chicken. Be brave! This yields awesome results and I will most certainly be doing this the next time I host Thanksgiving.

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Spatchcock Roasted Chicken

Ingredients:

  • brine for the chicken
  • 4 lb roasting chicken
  • 2 oranges
  • 2 lemons
  • cooking spray
  • 2 Tbsp butter
  • 2 tsp bacon fat (optional)
  • salt
  • pepper

Step 1: Brine the bird

You can use any brine you like. I halved this recipe from Pioneer Woman. I like this one in particular because it gives the bird sweet and savory flavors. I swear by brining whole birds before roasting, you’ll never have a dry roasted bird again! I recommend brining for at least 16 hours, or up to 24 hours before roasting.

Step 2: Spatchcock

Take the chicken out of the brine and allow it to drain for a few minutes.

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Place the chicken on a cutting board and pat dry with a paper towel.

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Using kitchen scissors, cut vertically along the backbone of the chicken on both sides and remove entirely.

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Flip the chicken over and press the bird as flat as you can.

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Step 3: Roast the chicken

Preheat the oven to 425 degrees. Place a cooling rack in a flat baking pan and put in the oven while it is preheating. Slice the lemons and oranges into thin round slices and set aside. Melt the butter (and bacon fat if using) in the microwave and set aside.

Once the oven is up to temperature, remove the hot pans from the oven. Carefully, spray the cooling rack with non stick cooking spray and arrange the lemon and orange slices on the the rack.

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Place the chicken on top of the citrus. Brush the skin with the melted butter (and bacon fat) and sprinkle with salt and pepper.

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Roast for 50-60 minutes until the chicken reaches an internal temperature of 165. Let the chicken rest for 10 minutes before cutting up and eating.

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Just look at that beauty.

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How you doin?

Sorry, I’ve been watching a lot of Freinds reruns lately. I regret nothing.

The wings and thighs are my favorite, and I love using the juicy meat from the breasts in sandwiches and soups. After carving the chicken, save those bones! Later this week I will share with you my absolute favorite recipe for brown chicken stock.

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Enjoy and let me know how your chicken turns out.

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Spatchcock Roasted Chicken

Ingredients:

  • brine for the chicken
  • 4 lb roasting chicken
  • 2 oranges
  • 2 lemons
  • cooking spray
  • 2 Tbsp butter
  • 2 tsp bacon fat (optional)
  • salt
  • pepper

Directions:

Step 1: Brine the bird. You can use any brine you like. I recommend brining for at least 16 hours, or up to 24 hours before roasting.

Step 2: Spatchcock

Take the chicken out of the brine and allow it to drain for a few minutes. Place the chicken on a cutting board and pat dry with a paper towel. Using kitchen scissors, cut vertically along the backbone of the chicken on both sides and remove entirely. Flip the chicken over and press the bird as flat as you can.

Step 3: Roast the chicken

Preheat the oven to 425 degrees. Place a cooling rack in a flat baking pan and put in the oven while it is preheating. Slice the lemons and oranges into thin round slices and set aside. Melt the butter (and bacon fat if using) in the microwave and set aside. Once the oven is up to temperature, remove the hot pans from the oven. Carefully, spray the cooling rack with non-stick cooking spray and arrange the lemon and orange slices on the the rack.

Place the chicken on top of the citrus. Brush the skin with the melted butter (and bacon fat) and sprinkle with salt and pepper.

Roast for 50-60 minutes until the chicken reaches an internal temperature of 165. Let the chicken rest for 10 minutes before cutting up and eating.

Peach Raspberry Coffee Cake

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This coffee cake rocks, and I am so pleased to be sharing it with you! It is moist, rich, and everything I have been looking for in a coffee cake. For this recipe I’ve selected peaches and raspberries, but feel free to sub in any frozen fruit combination you like.

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Peach Raspberry Coffee Cake

adapted from Big Oven

Ingredients for the crumb topping:

  • 1 1/4 c unbleached all-purpose flour (10 1/2 ounces)
  • 1/2 c granulated sugar
  • 2 Tbsp brown sugar
  • 1/4 tsp salt
  • 3/4 tsp ground cinnamon
  • 1/2 c unsalted butter, melted and cooled slightly
  • 1 tsp vanilla extract

Ingredients for the cake:

  • 1 c all-purpose flour
  • 1/4 tsp baking soda
  • 1/2 tsp baking powder
  • 1/4 tsp salt
  • 1/4 c unsalted butter, softened
  • 1/2 c sugar
  • 1 egg
  • 1/2 tsp vanilla extract
  • 4 oz  plain Greek yogurt or sour cream
  • 1/2 c raspberry, frozen*
  • 1/2 c peaches, frozen*

*A note on ingredients: the fruit must be frozen. I suggest leaving the fruit in the freezer until you are ready to fold them into the batter, right before putting the coffee cake into the oven. This is because thawed or slightly thawed fruit will add more moisture (more than desired) into the batter, whereas when the fruit is still frozen the moisture steams and cooks off.*

Directions:

First assemble the crumb topping; in a mixing bowl combine the flour, granulated sugar, brown sugar, salt, and cinnamon. Add the melted butter and vanilla extract to the crumb mixture.

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Use a fork to combine (or your hands) until all of the butter has been absorbed and large crumbs form. Set aside.

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Preheat the oven to 375 degrees and grease a 8 or 9 inch round baking pan (I used a spring-form cheesecake pan) and set aside.

In a mixing bowl combine the flour, baking soda, baking powder, and salt and set aside. In an electric mixer beat the softened butter for a minute or so until lightened in color. Slowly add the sugar and continue to mix until light and fluffy. Add the egg, vanilla extract, and yogurt (or sour cream) and beat until well combined. Stop mixer and scrape the edges and bottom of the bowl. Mix for another 30 seconds to combine the mixture.

Next, with the mixer on a low speed, slowly add the dry ingredients. Increase the speed slightly and once the mixture has just come together turn off the mixer.

Take the frozen fruit out of the freezer. Quickly chop the peach slices if needed. Then toss the frozen fruit in a small amount of flour to lightly (this is important!) coat the fruit. Fold the fruit into the batter by hand (do not use mixer), and pour the batter into the prepared pan. Top the batter with the crumb mixture.

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Bake the coffee cake for 60-70 minutes.  If the topping is getting too dark or is about to burn cover the pan with foil after 45 minutes of baking. The cake is finished when a tooth pick inserted into the center of the cake comes out clean and the edges of the cake are starting to pull away from the pan. Allow the cake to cool completely before removing from the pan. The edges and bottom of the cake will be a little dark (but not burned).

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Slice the cake into wedges and enjoy!

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Peach Raspberry Coffee Cake

Adapted from Big Oven

Ingredients:

For the crumb topping:

  • 1 1/4 c unbleached all-purpose flour (10 1/2 ounces)
  • 1/2 c granulated sugar
  • 2 Tbsp brown sugar
  • 1/4 tsp salt
  • 3/4 tsp ground cinnamon
  • 1/2 c unsalted butter, melted and cooled slightly
  • 1 tsp vanilla extract
For the cake:

  • 1 c all-purpose flour
  • 1/4 tsp baking soda
  • 1/2 tsp baking powder
  • 1/4 tsp salt
  • 1/4 c unsalted butter, softened
  • 1/2 c sugar
  • 1 egg
  • 1/2 tsp vanilla extract
  • 4 oz  plain Greek yogurt or sour cream
  • 1/2 c raspberry, frozen*
  • 1/2 c peaches, frozen*

*A note on ingredients: the fruit must be frozen. leave the fruit in the freezer until you are ready to fold them into the batter, right before putting the coffee cake into the oven.

Directions:

First assemble the crumb topping; in a mixing bowl combine the flour, granulated sugar, brown sugar, salt, and cinnamon. Add the melted butter and vanilla extract to the crumb mixture. Use a fork to combine (or your hands) until all of the butter has been absorbed and large crumbs form. Set aside.

Preheat the oven to 375 degrees and grease a 8 or 9 inch round baking pan (I used a springform cheesecake pan) and set aside.

In a mixing bowl combine the flour, baking soda, baking powder, and salt and set aside. In an electric mixer beat the softened butter for a minute or so until lightened in color. Slowly add the sugar and continue to mix until light and fluffy. Add the egg, vanilla extract, and yogurt (or sour cream) and beat until well combined. Stop mixer and scrape the edges and bottom of the bowl. Mix for another 30 seconds to combine the mixture.

Next, with the mixer on a low speed, slowly add the dry ingredients. Increase the speed slightly and once the mixture has just come together turn off the mixer.

Take the frozen fruit out of the freezer. Quickly chop the peach slices if needed. Then toss the frozen fruit in a small amount of flour to lightly (this is important!) coat the fruit. Fold the fruit into the batter by hand (do not use mixer), and pour the batter into the prepared pan. Top the batter with the crumb mixture.

Bake the coffee cake for 60-70 minutes.  If the topping is getting too dark or is about to burn cover the pan with foil after 45 minutes of baking. The cake is finished when a toothpick inserted into the center of the cake comes out clean and the edges of the cake are starting to pull away from the pan. Allow the cake to cool completely before removing from the pan. The edges and bottom of the cake will be a little dark (but not burned).

 

Lemon Oregano Roasted Chicken Thighs

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Honestly, this dish is a staple in my house. I started making this a few years ago, when I was desperate for one-pot meals, and this one just stuck. I make this (or a variation of this) every two weeks or so. This can be attributed to a few reasons; the first being that it is quick and easy to make. I also love this recipe because it’s a building block for tons of other dinners. I often change the spice combinations and vegetables I’m roasting with the chicken so it doesn’t get boring.

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The last, and maybe most important reason we make this for dinner so often is because it’s with chicken thighs. Let me tell you, I used to think I didn’t like chicken. It turns out I was just drying out my chicken every time and that was really making my chicken dishes unenjoyable. Once I started cooking chicken thighs with this method I learned how absolutely amazing chicken can really be, crispy on the outside and juicy on the inside. It was literally a revelation to me that I had been ignoring, in my opinion, the best part of the chicken!

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And chicken thighs are so inexpensive. I buy big packs of them at the grocery store and freeze 4-5 thighs in a bag, so that when I’m making it for dinner I put the bag of frozen chicken in a sink of hot water and they defrost quickly. After they are defrosted I trim the skin so there is just a small amount on the top of the thigh, and trim the excess fat on the bottom of the thigh.

So, as you try this recipe in your own kitchen, I strongly encourage you to experiment with different spice combinations for the chicken and which vegetables get roasted with the chicken. If you like crispy chicken that is juicy and flavorful on the inside then this recipe is for you.

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Lemon Oregano Roasted Chicken

Ingredients:

  • 4-5 chicken thighs
  • salt
  • pepper
  • 2 Tbsp olive oil
  • 1 1/2 c carrots, baby carrots, or cut into 2 inch pieces
  • 1 lemon, cut into quarters
  • oregano

Directions:

Preheat your oven to 400 degrees. Pat dry the chicken thighs with a paper towel and place on a plate. Sprinkle the chicken thighs with salt and pepper. Heat 2 tablespoons of olive oil in an oven safe pan over medium-high heat. Once the oil is shiny and easily coats the bottom of the pan place the chicken thighs, skin side down, on the the pan. Allow them to brown for 6 minutes. Carefully flip the chicken and brown the bottom of the chicken thighs for 6 minutes.

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Toss the carrots in a small amount of olive oil and add them to the pan around the chicken thighs. Squeeze the lemon slices over the entire pan (be careful, this will splatter a bit), place the lemon slices in the pan on top of the vegetables.

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Sprinkle oregano on the chicken thighs and then place the pan (uncovered) in the oven and roast for 18-20 minutes (depending on the size of the chicken thighs).

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The chicken is finished when it reaches an internal temperature of 165.

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Let the chicken rest for 5-10 minutes before serving.

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Lemon Oregano Roasted Chicken

Ingredients:

  • 4-5 chicken thighs
  • salt
  • pepper
  • 2 Tbsp olive oil
  • 1 1/2 c carrots, baby carrots, or cut into 2 inch pieces
  • 1 lemon, cut into quarters
  • oregano

Directions:

Preheat your oven to 400 degrees. Pat dry the chicken thighs with a paper towel and place on a plate. Sprinkle the chicken thighs with salt and pepper. Heat 2 tablespoons of olive oil in an oven safe pan over medium-high heat. Once the oil is shiny and easily coats the bottom of the pan place the chicken thighs, skin side down, on the the pan. Allow them to brown for 6 minutes. Carefully flip the chicken and brown the bottom of the chicken thighs for 6 minutes.

Toss the carrots in a small amount of olive oil and add them to the pan around the chicken thighs. Squeeze the lemon slices over the entire pan (be careful, this will splatter a bit), place the lemon slices in the pan on top of the vegetables.

Sprinkle oregano on the chicken thighs and then place the pan (uncovered) in the oven and roast for 18-20 minutes (depending on the size of the chicken thighs).

The chicken is finished when it reaches an internal temperature of 165.

Let the chicken rest for 5-10 minutes before serving.

 

 

Poached Pears in Red Wine

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A few years ago when I was living and working in Boston I noticed a small free magazine called Lola Magazine. It was with all the other free publications near the T stops. It turned out to be a just adorable magazine geared towards the women of Boston.  I liked this magazine because it reminded me of a smaller version of Real Simple Magazine. It had some interesting articles in it that featured local business women, there was always a piece on a local charity, and my favorite part; 2-3 recipes.

I have no idea how long the magazine had been around, but I found myself starting to look forward to the beginning of each month when I new magazine would be out there waiting for me on my way to work. Then one day, at the beginning of the month I went to grab a new issue, and there was none to be had. Last months issues still sat there in the dispenser untouched. I checked again the next day and the day after that. Lola magazine disappeared almost as quickly as I had found it. Unfortunately, I’m sure this is a very common story for free print publications. I don’t have any copies of Lola Magazine saved (I’m not one to hang on to magazines for long), however I’m glad I did tear a few recipes from the magazine and save them in my enormous binder full of stray recipes I’ve collected over the years.

Today’s recipe, Poached Pears for Two is one of those recipes I saved from Lola Magazine. The last time I made these my parents were visiting me for Easter and I was looking to make them a unique dessert. I had never heard of poaching fruit and I remember being so impressed how we transformed the flavor of a cheap red wine into this delicious cooking sauce. I like this dessert a lot, and I have a sneaking suspicion you will too. So take a look, and give a try, you won’t be sorry!

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Poached Pears in Red Wine

Recipe originally appeared in Lola Magazine

Ingredients:

  • 2-6 firm but ripe Bosc or Bartlett pears (one pear per person)
  • 1 bottle of red wine (no need to get anything fancy, just a cheapo bottle will do)
  • 1 3/4 cup granulated sugar
  • the peel of 1 orange
  • 1 vanilla bean, sliced in half
  • 1 cinnamon stick
  • whipped cream or mascarpone (to top the finished pears, vanilla ice cream works too)

Directions:

In a medium-sized saucepan (large enough to hold the cooking liquid and pears) combine the wine, sugar, orange peel, vanilla bean, and cinnamon stick. Over medium heat bring the mixture to a simmer, stirring occasionally to dissolve the sugar. This will honestly, make your kitchen smell just heavenly.

While the wine sauce is coming up to a simmer, peel the pears. I recommend cutting off the bottom of the pear to create a flat surface. This way, the pears can stand up in the pan if needed, and also this will make for a dramatic presentation when the dessert I finished.

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Once the sugar is dissolved and the wine is simmering, gently place the pears into the mixture. The pears should be mostly submerged in the mixture. If the pears are mostly sticking out add some water to the mixture so that they are mostly covered in liquid. Simmer the pears over medium heat for 25 minutes. The pears should be tender when pierced with a knife (the pears might take 10-15 minutes longer if they are not very ripe).

Remove the pot from the heat and allow to cool in the poaching liquid. Once they are room temperature, store the pears (in the poaching liquid) in the refrigerator, and let them sit for at least several hours and as long as three days (I like to let mine sit for 24 hours).

When you are ready to serve the pears, take them out of the liquid and allow them to come up to room temperature. While they are warming up, strain about 1/2 of the poaching liquid into a pot and bring up to a boil over high heat. Boil the liquid for 15-25 minutes until the wine sauce cooks down a bit and thickens. It should be the consistency of warm honey. Allow the wine sauce to cool slightly.

When you are ready to plate the pears, you can leave them whole for a dramatic presentation, or if you have a misshapen pear you can cut it up (although mine kind of looks more like sushi in this picture than a pear).

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Drizzle the pears with some of  the cooked pan sauce.

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And lastly, top with a healthy dollop of whipped cream (or whatever you have decided to top the pears with).

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I just love the color of the pears after they have been sitting in the wine sauce. Yum! I hope you enjoy these as much as I did.

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Poached Pears in Red Wine

Recipe originally appeared in Lola Magazine

Ingredients:

  • 2-6 firm but ripe Bosc or Bartlett pears (one pear per person)
  • 1 bottle of red wine (no need to get anything fancy, just a cheapo bottle will do)
  • 1 3/4 cup granulated sugar
  • the peel of 1 orange
  • 1 vanilla bean, sliced in half
  • 1 cinnamon stick
  • whipped cream or mascarpone (to top the finished pears, vanilla ice cream works too)

Directions:

In a medium-sized saucepan (large enough to hold the cooking liquid and pears) combine the wine, sugar, orange peel, vanilla bean, and cinnamon stick. Over medium heat bring the mixture to a simmer, stirring occasionally to dissolve the sugar.

While the wine sauce is coming up to a simmer, peel the pears. I recommend cutting off the bottom of the pear to create a flat surface. This way, the pears can stand up in the pan if needed, and also this will make for a dramatic presentation when the dessert I finished.

Once the sugar is dissolved and the wine is simmering, gently place the pears into the mixture. The pears should be mostly submerged in the mixture. If the pears are mostly sticking out add some water to the mixture so that they are mostly covered in liquid. Simmer the pears over medium heat for 25 minutes. The pears should be tender when pierced with a knife (the pears might take 10-15 minutes longer if they are not very ripe).

Remove the pot from the heat and allow to cool in the poaching liquid. Once they are room temperature, store the pears (in the poaching liquid) in the refrigerator, and let them sit for at least several hours and as long as three days (I like to let mine sit for 24 hours).

When you are ready to serve the pears, take them out of the liquid and allow them to come up to room temperature. While they are warming up, strain about 1/2 of the poaching liquid into a pot and bring up to a boil over high heat. Boil the liquid for 15-25 minutes until the wine sauce cooks down a bit and thickens. It should be the consistency of warm honey. Allow the wine sauce to cool slightly.

Drizzle the pears with some of  the cooked pan sauce before serving and top with a healthy dollop of whipped cream or mascarpone.