Poached Pears

INGREDIENTS:
1 1/2 cups fruit juice
1 (1″) piece of vanilla bean
2 cinnamon sticks
4 firm Bosc pears, halved and cored (stems left on)
1/4 cup Adriatic Fig Spread

DIRECTIONS
In a wide shallow saucepan, boil juice, vanilla bean, cinnamon for 5 minutes.  Arrange pears in the pan, cut side down, and poach gently, spooning the liquid over the pears from time to time if they are not fully submerged.  Poach for 20-30 minutes, or until tender but not mushy.  Remove pears with a slotted spoon and place on a serving plate to cool slightly.

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Mediterranean Chicken

INGREDIENTS:
8 skinned and boned chicken thighs or 2 skinned and boned chicken breasts (cut breasts in halves and then in half crosswise)
salt and freshly ground black pepper
2 TBS olive oil
1 large yellow or white onion, chopped
6 garlic cloves, minced
1 tsp fresh thyme leaves, crushed
3/4 cup dry red wine
one 28 oz bottle diced tomatoes, undrained
2 TBS balsamic vinegar
9 ounces artichoke hearts, drained
1/4 cup putted green olives (i.e. Greek or French in brine), cut in half
1/4 cup putted black olives (i.e. kalamata), cut in half
2 TBS drained capers
1/4 cup fresh flat-leaf parsley

DIRECTIONS:
Season the chicken with salt and pepper to taste.  Heat the oil in a 5-quart cast iron Dutch oven over medium-high heat.  Brown chicken, a few pieces at a time, 4 minutes total for each batch (2 minutes for breasts).  Remove browned chicken pieces to a platter.

Add the onion and cook, stirring occasionally, over medium-low heat until translucent and beginning to lightly brown, about 4 minutes.  Add the garlic and thyme and cook 1 minute.  Add the wine and bring to a boil, scraping the bottom of the pan to loosen browned bits and incorporate them into the liquid.  Stir in the tomatoes and vinegar.

Return the chicken to the pan and add the artichokes, both kinds of olives, and the capers.  Cover and simmer over medium-low heat until the chicken is done, about 30 minutes.  Sprinkle with parsley and serve.