One of my favorite things about this time of year is anticipating the winter squash harvest. Our local farm stand has the nicest Sweet Dumpling squashes, and it was a great impetus to combine poached pears with this favorite squash of mine. I have a huge sage plant in my garden, and I wanted to include that earthy flavor into the recipe as well. —Bevi
4 generous or 8 adequate portions
For the Poached Pears
Bartlett pears - a little under ripe, peeled and halved
Poach the pears. Add the sugar to the water in a one quart saucepan. Stir until the sugar is dissolved, and bring to a light boil. Reduce the heat, add pear brandy to the poaching liquid, as well as the sprig of sage. Let simmer for about 10 minutes. Add the pears to the poaching liquid. Cook for about 5 minutes, or until the pears are able to be pierced with a knife. Take off the heat, and let the pears steep in the liquid with the sage sprig.
Preheat oven to 375 degrees. Pour about 3 T. olive oil in the bottom of a small roasting pan - large enough to fit the 4 squash halves. Rub the cut sides of the squash around so they are covered in oil. Salt and pepper the squash. Place cut side down in the pan and bake for about 35 to 40 minutes.
Test the squash for doneness by piercing the bottom of the squash halves. If they are soft, they are done. Turn the squash right side up, place in the pan, and sprinkle the halves with the lemon juice.
Make sage brown butter. Heat the butter in a small saute pan, and add the sprigs of sage. Keep a low to medium heat and saute until the butter turns a light brown. Remove from heat.
Assemble the dish. Place a pear half with the a touch of the poaching liquid in the center of each squash half. Pour equal amounts of the sage brown butter over each pear, with a sage sprig. Place under the broiler for 10 to 20 seconds, watching very carefully! Serve.