The recipes in our series “Homespun Holidays” brings family together for intimate gatherings and creating new traditions and moments. This Thanksgiving Chicken with Pears, Bacon, and Leeks recipe from Christina Lane of Dessert for Two is a great alternative to a traditional turkey dinner since it can serve smaller gatherings of two to eight.
If you’re looking for an alternative for the Thanksgiving turkey, might I suggest roasting a whole chicken instead? Why, you ask? Two reasons: chicken is less prone to drying out, and it cooks in less time. Use that extra time and oven space to cook tasty side dishes like stuffing and mouthwatering pies.
Speaking of side dishes, this recipe has built-in side dish potential. Sliced Royal Riviera Pears are added to the roasting dish with the chicken and the bacon, and as the chicken cooks, the pears soften and intensify in flavor.
The whole chicken roasts on a rack made of halved leeks. When the chicken is done, the leeks are soft and fork-tender. One bite of leeks cooked in chicken and bacon tastes like the creamiest potato leek soup you’ve ever had.
If a whole chicken seems like too much, I’ve also scaled this recipe down to just two chicken breasts in a skillet. This can turn the recipe into a one-pan meal of seared chicken breasts with a leek, bacon, and pear hash.
Try making a small-batch version before Thanksgiving to get a taste before the big day. Roasted pears, creamy leeks, crispy bacon, and perfectly cooked chicken is a holiday meal or weeknight dinner that can help usher in the season of giving and being thankful.
Roasted Chicken with Pears, Bacon and Leeks
- 2 Harry & David Royal Riviera Pears
- 2 large leeks
- 1 whole chicken (4-5 pounds, with giblets removed)
- 2 tablespoons olive oil (plus extra)
- 1 tablespoon salt (plus extra)
- 2 teaspoons freshly ground black pepper (plus extra)
- 3 thick strips of bacon
- Preheat the oven to 425° F.
- First, clean the leeks by slicing off the dark green tops of the stalks and the roots. Rinse them under cold running water, and then slice them in half lengthwise and rinse them again. Leeks have lots of dirt and sand in them, so be sure to rinse them very well.
- Lay the leeks in a row in a 9″×13″ heavy duty pan. This is the ‘rack’ that the chicken will sit on top of.
- Next, rinse the pears and slice them into quarters. Place the quarters around the edge of the pan.
- Drizzle a small amount of olive oil and sprinkle salt, and pepper over the leeks and pears; toss to coat.
- Unwrap the chicken, give it a quick rinse, and remove the giblets.
- Dry off the chicken with paper towels. Pour 2 tablespoons of olive oil on the chicken, and rub it in with your hands. Sprinkle on the tablespoon of salt and 2 teaspoons of black pepper, and rub it all over evenly.
- Place the chicken over the leeks in the dish. Use kitchen string to tie the legs together for even baking. Slice the bacon strips in half and lay them over the top of the chicken.
- Place the pan in the oven and set the timer for 30 minutes.
- After 30 minutes, using tongs, carefully remove the bacon strips to avoid burning and set aside. Place the chicken back in the oven without the bacon for another 35 to 40 minutes.
- Use a meat thermometer to ensure the chicken reaches 165° F in the thickest part of the leg, without touching the bone.
- Let the chicken rest for 10 minutes before carving. Plate the chicken with the bacon, leeks, and pears.
- Slice the legs and wings off first. Then slice straight down closest to the breast bone but slightly off center. Follow it by a horizontal cut underneath the breast to loosen it. Repeat on the other side.
Skillet Chicken for Two
- 1 Harry & David Royal Riviera Pears
- 1 large leek
- 2 boneless chicken breasts (with skin is preferred)
- 1 tablespoon olive oil
- ½ teaspoon salt
- ½ teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
- 2 thick-sliced strips of bacon (cut into 1″ pieces)
- ½ cup dry white wine
- Place a 10″ cast iron skillet over medium-high heat.
- Add the bacon pieces to the pan. Stir the bacon occasionally while it cooks and starts to release its fat.
- Clean the leek by slicing off the dark green tops of the stalks and the roots. Rinse it under cold running water, and then slice it in half lengthwise and rinse it again. Slice the leek into 1″ pieces.
- Add the leeks to the skillet when the bacon is just starting to brown on one side.
- Cook the leeks for 2 to 3 minutes, until just starting to soften.
- Push everything to the edge of the pan, add the olive oil to the center, and place the chicken breasts skin-side down into the pan.
- Cook the chicken on the first side until it starts to brown, about 5 to 7 minutes.
- Flip the chicken to cook the other side and add the pears to the pan. Turn the heat down to medium-low and toss the pears with the leeks and bacon pieces on the edges of the pan as best as you can. Don’t toss the pears too much, or they’ll start to break down. We just want a light sear on them.
- After 5 minutes of cooking the second side of the chicken, add the white wine to the skillet. Continue cooking the chicken until it registers 165° F in the center.
- Serve the chicken breasts with the pear, bacon, leek hash on the side.