When you have fragrant juicy pears, you have to make some hard decisions. Should you could keep it simple and just slice and eat them with a great cheese? Perhaps add them to a winter salad? Make a tart? Good pears can be hard to find. When you get your hands on some, rest assured that whichever path you chose, it's going to be good. Here, pears are baked in a boozy liquid until tender. The braising liquid is boiled down with orange zest and more brandy to make a sauce. The pears are served over fried eggy challah bread with the sauce and a bit of cream spooned over the top. It is a very nice path for a good pear. - Waverly —Waverly
Test Kitchen Notes
Waverly uses a very clever recipe format here with active headings like Prep and Bake that give a narrative quality to the recipe. This adds not only clarity, but organization to the logical way the recipe is sequenced. The thoughtfulness continues with the treatment and flavors of the pear. The dish offers a well-rounded, balanced dessert with a complexity of flavors. The tender braised slightly buttered pear bathed in vermouth and brandy infused with notes of cinnamon shines as the star in this dessert, with the highlighting sweetness of the apricot and tang of the orange in the brandy sauce. The textural contrast of the buttery fried challah grounds it with a perfect base. The drizzle of fresh cream with a sprig of mint crowns this masterpiece. Thank you, Waverly. - Sagegreen —Sagegreen
- Serves 6
pears, peeled, halved and cored
vermouth or dry white wine
pear brandy, divided
stick of cinnamon
medium oranges, skin peeled into strips using a vegetable peeler
1-inch thick slices challah bread
1 1/2 cups
fresh mint for garnishing
- PREP: Preheat the oven to 325. Butter a baking dish with 2 Tbsp of the butter. Chop another 2 Tbsp butter into small pieces and set aside for the moment. Place halved pears in one layer in a covered baking dish. Sprinkle with sugar and then dot each pear with the rest of the chopped butter. Pour the vermouth, water, and 2 Tbsp of the pear brandy around the pears. Add the cinnamon stick. Cover everything with a round of parchment paper. Place the cover on the baking dish.
- BAKE: Place the baking dish in the lower third of the oven. Bake until pears are tender, about 20- 25 minutes.
- COOK THE STRIPS OF ORANGE PEEL: Meanwhile, place the strips of orange peel in a small saucepan and add enough water just to cover. Bring to a simmer and cook. When the strips are tender, remove them with a slotted spoon and drain. Dry the strips on paper towels and set aside.
- FRY THE BREAD: In a large skillet, melt 3 Tbsp of butter. Working in batches, add slices of challah bread and lightly brown on both sides. Add more butter if needed. Place one slice of bread on each plate.
- MAKE THE SAUCE: When the pears are done, remove them one by one from the cooking liquid with a slotted spoon and drain. Place two pear halves on one slice of fried bread. Pour the cooking liquid into a saucepan. Remove the cinnamon stick. Over MEDIUM HIGH heat, whisk the jelly into the liquid. Bring mixture to a boil and reduce until thick enough to coat a spoon. Stir in the remaining pear brandy and the strips of orange peel.
- SERVE: This dish can be enjoyed eaten warm or cold. (Just cover and refrigerate to serve cold later.) When you are ready to serve, spoon the orange sauce over the pears. Spoon some heavy cream alongside. Garnish with a sprig of fresh mint. Bring the sauce to the table to pass.