Sunday, October 19, 2014

Cranberry & Chèvre Stuffed Chicken with Butternut Squash and Poached Pear

While I really am not a fan of winters in New England it's possible that Fall is my favorite time of year. When the weather is crisp but warm in the sun and the trees have changed to brilliant reds and oranges this really is a great place to be. Another thing I love is the food. There are all the different types of squash, plenty of fresh apples and pears, pumpkin and then there are cranberries. Cranberries are great for spicing up stuffing, roasted with vegetables, or for making real cranberry sauce and I always look forward to cooking with them when I can get them fresh. I even had them shipped or brought in to Kathmandu the years I was there.

This is a rather simple dish that uses plenty of seasonal vegetables and fruits that embody the season for me.

Cranberry & Chèvre Stuffed Chicken

1 Chicken Breast
An easy simple dish with many of my favorite Fall flavors
1/2 Cup Cranberries
2oz Chèvre
1/2 Tsp Fall Spice Mix
2 tsp Brown Sugar
Salt & Pepper

Roasted Butternut Squash

1/2 Butternut Squash, cut lengthwise & seeded
2 Tbsp Butter
1/2 tsp Fall Spice Mix
1/2 Stick of Cinnamon

Poached Pear with Feta Cheese & Spiced Balsamic Reduction

1 Bosc Pear
1 Cup water
2 tsp lemon juice
1 Tbsp Brown Sugar
1 tsp Fall Spice Mix
1 Tbsp Balsamic Vinegar
Some crumbled Feta 

Make the Fall Spice mix: Combine a cinnamon stick, 3 cloves, 1 raw nutmeg, and 3 cardamom seeds in a grinder and turn them to dust. If larger pieces remain just run them through a fine sieve to separate them out.  

Start the Squash: Preheat the oven to 400 F. In a small pan place the squash skin side down. Place the butter over the section where the seeds had been and place the cinnamon stick there as well. Dust with the spice mix. Place this in the oven.

Cranberry & Chevre: Combine the water, cranberries, sugar and spice mix over a high heat. Cook until the water is essentially evaporated off and the mix doesn't run. Let it cool a little. Mix in the chèvre until it forms a nice even creamy semi-solid mix. 

Prepping the Chicken: Pound the chicken breast flat and trim any fat. lay it flat and place the cranberry & chèvre mixture on it, and then roll it shut. You can use toothpicks to help the chicken keep its shape and stay closed. Add a bit of oil to the outside of the chicken and add a dusting of salt and pepper. Remove the squash from the oven and place the chicken in the pan beside it (if the pan isn't big enough just put it in another one.) Bake for about 25 minutes.

Poach the Pears: Combine the water, lemon juice, brown sugar and spice mix over a high heat. Cut the pear into three equal sections down the center. I think leaving the stem looks good. Once the mixture comes to a boil place the pears in it for about 7 minutes or so, just long enough that they soften and absorb the flavor. The pears should be mostly submerged the entire time. Remove the pears and place on a plate to cool. Dump all but about 1/2 a cup of the mixture in the pot and then add the balsamic vinegar. Continue to heat this over a high heat until the mixture reduces by around half. Remove from heat and let it col for a minute.

Plate it: Place the feta over the pear slices and drizzle the reduction over it. Remove the chicken and squash from the pan and discard any cinnamon sticks and toothpicks you may have used. 

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