The silhouette of a bosc pear is sculptured art on the plate. Poaching is an easy do-ahead technique with elegant results. The key to success for this recipe is being tidy in how you peel the exterior. Trim away all skin, even the area around the stem. For extra elegance, lightly scrape away the woody skin from the stem. Also, core the pear through it’s bottom. When the pear is placed on the plate, your guests will be surprised to discover you’ve done the hard work for them. Everyone can be a member of the clean plate club.
GINGER POACHED PEAR
Makes 4 Servings
Prep Time: 10 minutes
Cooking Time: 45 minutes
1 cup sugar
1 bottle of white wine
1 vanilla pod (sliced down the middle, beans scraped and reserved)
1 cinnamon stick
1 orange, peeled (orange part only, no pith)
1 inch of fresh ginger, thinly sliced
1 star anise
Combine all the ingredients, except the pears, in a 3qt stock pot. Bring to boil, then simmer for 15 minutes until sugar is completely melted.
Meanwhile, prepare four firm Bosc pears. Hold the pears in your palm sideways, and use a 1/2″ diameter melon baller to scoop out the core via the bottom, leaving the sides and top intact. (When you present them, no one will know you’ve already cored them.) Peel the pears. Place the pears in the syrup and poach for 30 minutes or until tender. Test with a wooden scewer by piercing from the hollowed core being careful not to break the exterior surface. Turn off the heat and allow the pears to cool until ready to handle.
PRESENTATION: Serve upright and decorate the plate with drips of the poaching liquid. Garnish with mint.
CHEF’S TIP: For extra pizzazz, roll the poached pears in baker’s sugar. Tap off excess. Transfer to a cookie sheet and caramelize the outside by browning the sugar with a culinary blow torch. Be sure the sugar melts and bulbbles. This extra crunch will all a new twist to this classic dessert.
When is it ripe?
Give a pear the ‘neck test’. Test a pear for ripeness by pressing gently at the neck near the base of the stem. It should give slightly. The base should still be firm. If the base yields, pick yourself another pear, as that one might taste like alcohol. (The Asian Pear is an exception in that it is firm even when ripe.) Pears will appear in your supermarkets in late September. Pears are typically picked while green and are actually tastier when ripened at home. Ripen all pears at room temperature then store in the refrigerator.