Chicken and pears might not be your first idea of a good meal, but we promise it'll be your new go-to. Pressed between slices of crusty bread, lemony thyme chicken and caramelized pears melt together into a salty-sweet panini. Topped with white cheddar and fig jam, the towering melt has no shortage of flavor. Best part? It's easy to prepare, making weeknights a breeze.
You can also use this recipe developed by Michelle McGlinn as a lunch option by preparing the roasted chicken and pears ahead of time. That way, when lunchtime rolls around you can simply layer the chicken, pears, fig jam, and cheese and have a sandwich in minutes. Pair it with a homemade soup, and your kitchen will really start to feel like your favorite café. This fall-forward sandwich is the perfect way to welcome those first crisp, colder days of autumn (and if it's not cold yet, it pairs well with salad, too).
The Ingredients Needed For A Chicken And Pear Panini
To get started on these paninis, you'll need olive oil, thyme, lemon, salt, and pepper. Next, you'll want to grab a couple of pears and a pound of chicken. Any variety of pear will work, and if pears aren't in season, try apples instead. For the chicken we recommend breasts cut into cutlets, which will stay juicy after baking and pressing.
For the sandwich itself, grab fig jam, sharp white cheddar, spinach, and crusty bread. Any bread will work for a panini, but we love the crispy quality of pressed Italian loaves. You can also try sourdough or regular sandwich bread.
Coat The Chicken And Pears In Marinade
Since the chicken won't cook in the panini press, it has to be baked first. With the oven already on, cook the pears too, softening them into a rich caramelized topping. Whisk together olive oil, thyme, salt, pepper, and lemon, then submerge the pears in the mixture and shake off excess. Add to a baking sheet, leaving room for the chicken (you can also use two separate sheet trays). Coat the chicken after, using the rest of the marinade, and arrange on the baking sheet.
Bake The Pears And Chicken
If desired, shake extra thyme onto the chicken, then add to the oven and bake until the chicken is 165 F. If you don't have a thermometer, take a look at the chicken. It should be white with golden edges and completely cooked through. The pears will be soft and browned and almost jammy in texture. If storing for later, let the chicken and pears cool before storing them in an airtight container.
Pressing The Panini
To build the panini, layer the bottom slice of bread with spinach, chicken, pears, cheese, and jam. We recommend the jam go on last so that the top slice of bread sticks instead of sliding away. With the sandwich built, heat up the panini press and spray with oil or butter. Add the sandwich and press until the cheese is melted and the bread is toasted. If you don't have a panini press, simply butter each side of the bread and toast in a skillet on the stove, using a heavy pan to press the sandwich down.
Serving Chicken And Pear Paninis
These paninis are delicious with fall-flavored soups like butternut squash soup, mushroom and chestnut soup, or hearty minestrone. Of course, you can also go the soup-and-salad route, pairing instead with leafy salads or our Brussels and broccoli salad. If you are planning to save these sandwiches for later, we recommend storing the chicken and pears in an airtight container and building the sandwich fresh before pressing it, otherwise, the bread will go soggy. Luckily, these are easy to put together, so your mealtime will still be a breeze.
Chicken And Pear Panini Recipe
Prep Time: 10mCook Time: 20mYield: 4 SandwichesIngredients
⅓ cup olive oil
1 ½ tablespoons dried thyme
Juice from ½ lemon
1 teaspoon salt
1 teaspoon pepper
2 pears, sliced
4 chicken cutlets
2 cups spinach
8 slices Italian bread
8 ounces sharp white cheddar, sliced
4 tablespoons fig jam
Cooking spray, for pressing the panini
Preheat the oven to 450 F and arrange a sheet tray with parchment paper.
Whisk the olive oil, thyme, lemon juice, salt, and pepper together in a bowl.
Coat the pear slices in the oil mixture and arrange on sheet tray.
Coat chicken cutlets in oil mixture, adding more thyme or oil as needed, and arrange on the sheet tray.
Roast until chicken registers 165 F, about 15 minutes. Pears will be very soft. Let cool slightly.
To make the panini, add spinach to one piece of bread. Add chicken cutlet, then top with pears. Add cheese over the pears, then spread fig jam on the top piece of bread and close the sandwich.
Spray a panini press with cooking spray and heat to high heat. Add the sandwich and press firmly. Cook until bread is golden brown and cheese has melted, about 5 minutes.
Read the original article on Tasting Table.