Pere al vino rosso con crema pasticceria

Yield: 6 Servings

Measure Ingredient
3 \N Pears
2 cups Wine; about
½ cup Sugar; about
1 \N Stick cinnamon; optional
6 \N Whole cloves; optional
1 teaspoon Fennel seed; optional
1 \N Orange or lemon; zest of, optional
6 \N Egg yolks
4 tablespoons Sugar
6 teaspoons Flour
1 cup Milk
1 tablespoon Cornstarch; about
½ cup Cold water; about

1. To poach the pears, take three pears (I buy whichever are cheapest and don't worry too much about ripeness.) and peel them. Then slice them in half lengthwise and core them. Put them in a pot and cover with wine (~2 cups). Add about ½ cup sugar. For more flavor you can add the any or all of the following ingredients, but I didn't this time: 1 stick cinnamon, 6 whole cloves, 1 tsp fennel seed, zest of one orange or lemon. Bring the wine to a boil and simmer for ~ 10 minutes until the pears are soft but not mushy. Allow the pears and the wine mixture to cool. (Letting the pears sit lets them absorb more of the red color from the wine and makes for a more striking presentation.)

2. In the top of a double boiler, combine 6 egg yolks, 4 Tbs sugar, and 6 t flour. Whip with a wire whisk until color becomes less yellow and mixture is smooth. Add 1 cup milk slowly and whip to combine. Place top over simmering water and stir with a wooden spoon for about 10 minutes until mixture thickens to a consistency similar to sauces. You should be able to coat a wooden spoon with it, wipe a clean line with your finger, and then turn the spoon so gravity would make the sauce run across the clean line, but the sauce is thick enough to prevent that. This recipe is much like a creme anglaise, but should not be as thick. Remove pastry cream from double boiler and pass through a wire mesh strainer into another bowl. (Health note: egg yolks have an amazing capacity to emulsify sauces. Many recipes include many more than are really necessary. Next time I make this, I'll try just two egg yolks, although I suspect one would be sufficient.) 3. Remove the pears from the wine with a slotted spoon. If you added spices to the wine, you should strain them out and pour the wine back into the pan. Place the wine under the highest heat you can get and reduce it. (You will reduce it to a small fraction of its original volume. High heat will save time, and you shouldn't worry about burning it.) When you get it to almost a sauce consistency, mix ~ 1 Tbs cornstarch with ~½ cup cold water in a cup, using your finger to break up any lumps. Pour this into the wine.

Continue reducing until you get almost the consistency of jam or jelly. At this point you will probably want to use a medium heat so you can stop it at the right point. When the sauce is thick enough, pour it into a bottle with a thin nozzle similar to the ketchup squirters you see at hamburger stands. If the sauce is thick enough, it will not come out of the bottle when turned upside down, but will come out slowly when you squeeze on it.

If it's not thick enough, reduce it some more.

4. Presentation. Yes, this is what makes the dish pretty. Take a white dessert plate and spoon about 3 tablespoons of the white pastry cream into the center. Now hold the plate vertical and turn it so that the sauce coats the entire center of the plate without any on the rim. Grab the ketchup squirter with the wine sauce in it and draw a series of thin horizontal lines across the plate spaced by ~¼". Now use a toothpick, and drag it across the plate perpendicular to the lines, up and down, about ¼" apart.

You should now have a beautiful herringbone pattern much like a decorated cake. Add a small sprig of fresh mint to the top of the plate. On a cutting board, place a pear half core side down with the line of the core perpendicular to you, with the top of the pear away from you. Using a chef knife, slice the pear into thin ~¼" vertical slices. Then use your hand to mush the pear slices into a pretty fruit fan. The red of the outside of the pear will make a pretty contrast to the white of the inside. Slide your chef knife under the pear and transfer the pear to the center of the plate.

Repeat to make six plates.

5. Do all this before dinner, and chill it. When dessert time comes, just pull them out of the fridge and serve.



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