Pears a one of my favorite things about fall. They have a bit of a deeper flavor than an apple but all the juiciness. They come in a large array of varieties and can be prepared almost every which way form poaching, to roasting, to baking, to juicing, to drying, and to eating them raw and probably plenty I am forgetting.
For a long time the pear was just another fruit for me. One that tended to get soft and brown almost as quick as a banana. It wasn’t until I came across a technique of roasting the pear packed in salt that everything changed for me.
I would looking to do a fun fancy dinner and had a recipe for a duck breast that had something they called pear relish to go with it. I then thought about wanting to make a sauce that would help bring out the pear flavor and looked at the Alinea cookbook and found Roasted Pear Purée. You hear Alinea and if you’re any kind of foodie you’re thinking there’s no way I am going to even try to cook from Alinea’s cookbook but you would be surprised that a lot of these Michelen starred restaurants cookbooks have a lot the can be done at home and used in very meaningful ways. Take their Pear Purée recipe. Nothing could be simpler. Pre-heat the oven to 375ºF, lay the pears (the recipe calls for 10 but you can adjust to your needs) in a roasting pan (something with tall edges), then pack in coarse kosher salt (depending on the size of the pan it can take up to 3 ½ pounds of salt (don’t worry you won’t be eating the salt) ensuring you cover all the pears well all the way around with a thick layer of salt. Roast for 1 hour. Remove from the slat. (The salt will form a “shell”.) When the pears are cool enough to handle peel and core. In a blender, combine the sugar (100 grams, that’s a ½ cup, for ever 10 pears), blend until smooth.
I can’t tell you how amazed I was at the flavor this pear purée had! It was so intense and full. Because of the roasting in salt it trapped all the moisture in cooking the pear evenly throughout and causing the natural sweetness and it’s flavor to intensify. (Oh, and the pear purée was a perfect balance to the fattiness of the duck breast.
Now that we are in pear season again I am trying new ways to use pears. Currently I am working on a quinoa oatmeal with pears and persimmons. The Quinoa, Steel-Cut Oats, and the Pears were all cooked together in my pressure cooker with some spices. Unfortunately I didn’t get the sweetness from the pears I was hoping for. So now my idea is to cook the gains in the pressure cooker and then make my pear purée and fold the two together. Then portion it out and rewarm it in the mornings as needed and top with all my extras.
I also made Rye Berry, Chicory, Pear and Walnut Salad. In the recipe it calls for thinly sliced pears which I did the firs time I made it. However the second time I diced the pears and added them in to the rye berry mixture.
One of the things I am looking forward to trying this year as well is the recipe in Dandelion & Quince “A Steamed Pear to Soothe a Cough”. So the next time you are in the grocery store and see the wide array of pears this time of year think to yourself “what can I do with these?” and just remember that they can be anything from breakfast to dessert and everything in between!