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Roasted pear and garlic chicken with Roquefort cream sauce
March 3, 2010, 10:26 am
Filed under: Cook, Eat | Tags: , , , ,

I bought a half liter of heavy cream from Whole Foods over the weekend because all the snow in NYC was making me crave rich, creamy sauces. After chicken curry, spinach cream sauce pasta, cream of spinach soup, and umpteen lattes, I needed one more use for the last of my heavy cream. I happened to have some super-duper-stinky Roquefort cheese lying around that I can’t bring myself to eat plain – it’s really that potently stinky (and that’s saying something coming from someone who loves stinky cheese). So I decided I’d capture the essence and flavor of the Roquefort but dilute the potency by turning it into a cream sauce, and rather than serving as pasta, I decided to drizzle it over roasted garlic chicken with some pears.

I found a Chicken with Roquefort Cream Sauce recipe on Epicurious.com, but I didn’t like the idea of actually cooking the chicken in the sauce because I wanted more control over just how much Roquefort would go into each bite. I also wanted to cut the potency of the Roquefort with a fruit pairing – green d’Anjou pear – smooth, acidic, and refreshing when eaten raw; softer, sweeter but still a wee bit tart when roasted. Lastly, I didn’t have any Herbes de Provence in my spice cabinet so I used rosemary and Italian seasoning and hoped for the best (and it actually tasted great). It’s a rich dish that is not difficult to make, and it yields an elegant, special occasion-worthy meal. So here is my recipe:

Roasted Pear and Garlic Chicken with Roquefort Cream Sauce

Yield: Serves 2

Ingredients

  • 4 tablespoons olive oil
  • 2 chicken leg quarters (thigh and leg together – skin on)
  • 1-1/2 cups heavy cream
  • 1/2 cup dry white wine – I used a dry Pinot Grigio
  • 6 garlic cloves, minced
  • 1 teaspoon dried rosemary
  • 1 teaspoon Italian seasoning
  • 1/2 cup Roquefort cheese
  • 1 D’Anjou pear, washed, cored, and cut into 1/2 thick slices
  • 1 tablespoon butter
  • Salt and pepper to taste

Preparation

  • Preheat oven to 400 degrees F. Mince 2 of the 6 cloves of garlic and place in a small bowl with 1 tablespoon of olive oil. Cut a slit in the skin of each chicken leg quarter where the drumstick meets the thigh, and spoon some of the garlic and oil mixture under the skin of each drumstick and thigh. Rub about a half teaspoon of coarse salt on top of each of the chicken leg quarters to draw out moisture and add a little flavor. Do not use fine table salt or it will be too salty! Take half of the pear slices and place them across the bottom of an oven-safe dish. Place the chicken leg quarter on top of the pear slices, add a quarter tablespoon pat of butter on top of each  drumstick and thigh, and cook uncovered in the oven for 40 minutes.
  • Heat 2 tablespoons of oil in a saucepan over medium-high heat. Add the remaining 4 cloves of minced garlic, the rosemary, and the Italian seasoning and cook for 1 or 2 minutes until garlic starts to brown. Add wine and cream, then  simmer on medium-low so that sauce continues to reduce. Add the cheese in spoonfuls, whisking into the sauce until it is completely melted. Taste the sauce as you go along, adding more cheese if you want a stronger flavor, more cream to dilute the flavor, and more wine to add acid and tang. Do not add any salt, as the sauce will become saltier as it reduces.
  • After 40 minutes, remove the chicken from the oven and turn up the oven temperature to 425F. Remove the roasted pear slices from underneath the chicken and set them on top of the chicken. Return the chicken and pears to the oven for 10-15 minutes so the pears can crisp a little, or until a meat thermometer reads at least 165F when inserted into the thickest part of the thigh.
  • The liquid in the saucepan should now be reduced to sauce consistency. Season with pepper to taste. Plate the chicken and surround the edge of each plate with the slices from the uncooked half of the pear. Pour sauce over chicken and roasted pears and serve.

I like having half the pear cooked (sweet and warm) and half thepear uncooked (cool, crisp, and tart) because I think it’s a nice contrast in flavor and texture. If you want, though, you can roast all the pear slices or not roast them at all.

If Roquefort is too strong a cheese for you, this recipe will work just fine if you substitute a Gorgonzola or mild blue cheese (like a Fourme d’Ambert) instead. If you’re in NYC, I’d highly recommend that you do your cheese shopping at East Village Cheese, where I bought my Roquefort for $5.99/lb. and I saw a Danish Saga Blue on special for $3.99/lb. That is way cheaper than what you’ll find anywhere else in Manhattan, but they won’t let you taste, and there’s a 1/2 lb. minimum per cheese.

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