Side Orders: Rich dessert leads to new appreciation for pears

Side Orders: Rich dessert leads to new appreciation for pears

October 4th, 2017 by Anne Braly in Life Entertainment

Fresh pears are one of the few fruits for which I don't really care. For starters, their taste is pretty weak in comparison to other fruits. And then there's the fact that they take so long to ripen.

It wasn't until I read an article from the Oregon Extension Service that I realized pears are one of the few fruits that don't ripen successfully on the tree. They're picked when they have reached full size, but before the onset of ripening. Well, I thought, no wonder they sit for days on my kitchen windowsill and are still as hard as a rock.

Nonetheless, it is pear season, and my husband loves them, so I decided to give pears another go when I came across this recipe for roasted pears. I cut this recipe out of a magazine years ago, thinking I'd try it but never did. That is, until recently.

Anne Braly

Anne Braly

Photo by Contributed Photo /Times Free Press.

What I discovered was not only that roasting pears makes for a very simple, yet rather elegant dessert, but my kitchen smelled like a dream as they were roasting. To roast the pears, you simply rub them with confectioners sugar, then place them in a pan with melted butter. You don't even have to peel them.

As the pears cook, the confectioners sugar marries with the pears' natural sugars, and a caramelization process begins. Add some fruity wine, like Riesling, and a stick of cinnamon or light sprinkling of ground cinnamon, and once the pears are tender and the wine has reduced to a think syrup, they're ready to devour — almost. A dollop of whipped cream or, better yet, a scoop of vanilla ice cream, is de riguer — perhaps the most important step to bringing this dish to a prize finish.

If you are patient enough to withstand the ripening process, you can tell when a pear is ripe by applying gentle pressure to the stem end. If it's soft, you're in business. For this recipe, though, you don't have to wait till they are totally soft — you want a little bit of firmness so the pears can stand up through the roasting process without turning to mush.

Wine-Roasted Pears

4 semi-ripe Bosc or Bartlett pears

1/3 cup confectioners sugar

3 tablespoons butter

3/4 cup white wine, such as Riesling

1 (3-inch) cinnamon stick or 1/2 teaspoon cinnamon

Pinch kosher salt

Ice cream or whipped cream, for serving

Heat oven to 400 degrees. Quarter and core the pears, then dust the cut sides of pears with confectioners sugar. Melt butter in an oven-safe Dutch oven or cast-iron skillet over medium-high heat. When the butter is melted, add pears, cut side down, to the butter and cook, moving the pears around so the cut sides become caramelized and browned, 8 to 10 minutes.

Flip pears so that they are cut side up. Pour in the wine, and drop in the cinnamon stick (or sprinkle with ground cinnamon) and a small pinch of salt. Place the pan, uncovered, into the oven, and roast until the pears are tender and the wine has reduced down into a thin syrup, 15 to 20 minutes. Serve on dessert plates drizzled with some of the pan syrup, and top with whipped cream or ice cream.

NATIONAL TACO DAY

If you were not aware, today is National Taco Day, and Chuy's is celebrating all day, from 11 a.m. to 10 p.m., by offering a crispy beef taco to any order for just $1 more. Or check Chuy's on Facebook, Instagram or Twitter, find the secret Taco Day catchphrase, and you can get your beef taco for free with your order. All Mexican beers are also $1 off. But Chuy's is upping the taco ante by asking you to dress like a taco — use your imagination — and you'll be treated to any free entree you want. The Chattanooga Chuy's is at 2271 Gunbarrel Road.

Contact Anne Braly at abraly@timesfreepress.com.

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