A Thing for Pears
For those of us living in four-season climates, next week’s autumnal equinox (Sept. 22 at 5:18 p.m. ET) means bye bye peaches and watermelon, hello apples and pears.
As much as I love the crunch of an apple (and I really could eat one every day during the cold months), I’m equally enamored by the floral nectar of a ripe pear, tender to the core, juice dripping down my chin.
I’m not so sure I have much company, however; when given a choice, most folks, I reckon, go for the apple, eternally associated as the thing that keeps the proverbial doctor away. No one is saying, after all, “As American as Pear Pie.”
High in fiber (approximately one-fourth of the daily requirement) and a good source of Vitamin C, the pear is hardly a second-tier choice. In fact, when it comes to salads, I’ll take the pear any day over the pomme; it’s a great complement to peppery arugula and bitter frisee. And when you’re hankering for a cheese plate, a pear is just what this dairy lover ordered.
Below, recipe details for a pear crisp that my cooking class students learned to recreate last night. Inspired by the Bermudian cocktail, “Dark ‘n Stormy®,” this pear-centric sweet ending includes rum-infused raisins, lime zest, crystallized ginger and a luscious brown butter.
If this doesn’t turn you into a pear lover, I don’t know what will. (P.S. Substitute dried cranberries and you’ve got Thanksgiving dessert covered.)
KOD’s Dark ‘n’ Stormy Pear Crisp
6-8 Bartlett or Anjou pears, peeled, cored and roughly chopped
1/3 cup raisins, soaked in 1/3 cup rum (or enough to cover the raisins) for at least 20 minutes
3 tablespoons chopped crystallized ginger
2 teaspoons lime zest (from approximately 2 limes)
3 tablespoons unsalted butter
Vanilla bean or 1 teaspoon high-quality vanilla extract
Preheat oven to 375 degrees. In a medium mixing bowl, add pears, raisins, rum, ginger and lime zest. Stir to combine. Pour into an 8-inch square or 9-inch pie plate (a skillet with an oven-proof handle also works beautifully).
Melt butter in a small saucepan over low heat. (If using scraped insides of a vanilla bean, you may add to the pan; if using extract, pour directly over filling.) Let butter brown for at least three minutes. Pour browned butter over fruit. Set aside.
6 tablespoons flour
1/4 cup light brown sugar
1/4 cup granulated sugar
1/4 teaspoon ground nutmeg (preferably freshly grated from a whole nutmeg)
1/2 teaspoon cinnamon
1/4 teaspoon salt
5 tablespoons unsalted butter, cut into small pieces, softened
3/4 cup walnuts or pecans, chopped
In a medium bowl, combine flour, sugars, spices and salt. With hands, pinch butter into mixture until it looks like crumbly wet sand. Refrigerate for about 15 minutes before using.
Drop topping onto buttered fruit, covering entire surface. Sprinkle nuts on top. Bake until fruit is fork-tender and topping is crunchy, about 40 minutes. Cool slightly and serve in bowls.
Makes six servings.