I tinkered with the recipe a bit, adding pomegranate seeds and fresh figs, radicchio, and endive. Steeped the pears in sherry and star anise, and cloves, rather than red wine. The sweet-spiced almonds were a great element of this dish!
Mr. Bentobird mixed up the sherry vinegar, shallot, and mustard dressing which added a piquant contrast to the salad's sweet and exotic spice flavors...
For the main course, a dish conjured from my fantasy of a rainy November night in central Italy--a chicken, vegetable, and polenta casserole with the mellow, rich flavors of Italy's green-gold heartland:
To make: Gently cook four organic chicken legs in garlic, olive oil, and butter until nicely browned; lightly salt and pepper, then add white wine and cover, cooking until done. Remove meat from bone. Cook polenta slices, coated in olive oil, in a 375 oven until lightly crispy. Meanwhile, cook shallots and garlic in olive oil and butter, then add sliced baby bella mushrooms, fennel and endive slices, and asparagus. Cook until tender but still vibrant; season with salt and freshly ground pepper. Remove polenta slices from oven, place chicken on top of the polenta, mounding in the center, then arrange fennel, endive, and mushrooms on either side and layer asparagus across the top. Scatter grated Reggiano-Parmesan over and bake for about 10 minutes. Top with fennel fronds.
Serve with the pear salad, and crusty warm bread. We enjoyed a 2008 Simi Sonoma County Sauvingnon Blanc with this meal!