As fall approaches on the North Fork, so does the apple and pear season. Although apples are far more popular than pears, it is the pear that is more elegant and an underutilized fruit for some great cooked recipes.
There are two main types of pear: the hard, granular winter pear such as Bosc and the softer, juicier, butter pears such as Bartlett and Anjou. In the following recipe the Bosc pear takes on a delicious flavor when grilled over charcoal and served with blackberry sauce and pork tenderloin. And the second recipe is a French classic too good to pass up. Enjoy.
Grilled Pork Tenderloin with Pears, Blackberries & Sweet Potato
Purchase one pork tenderloin (about 1 1/2 pounds) and 1 pound of sweet Italian sausage. After trimming the silver skin from the pork, cut it into two equal pieces.
Prepare a rub by combining 1 teaspoon smoked paprika, 1 teaspoon chili powder, 1/2 teaspoon garlic powder, 1/2 teaspoon onion powder, 1 teaspoon coarse salt and 1 teaspoon pepper. Rub this mixture over the pork and refrigerate for 30 minutes.
Peel 3 sweet potatoes and cut them into half-inch-thick discs on the bias. Cut 4 Bosc pears in half through the stem and remove the core with a spoon. Brush the cut pears with lemon juice to prevent browning.
Prepare a charcoal fire, waiting for white coals and a temperature of 350 degrees. Brush the pork and sausage with canola oil and place them on the hot part of the grill. After about 5 minutes, turn them and continue cooking. When nicely marked, move them to the cooler part of the grill and put on the cover.
After cooking the meat another 10 minutes, brush the sweet potatoes with oil and place them on the hot part of the grill. When they show grill marks, move them to the cooler part also.
Finally, brush the pears with oil and grill them cut side down over the hot coals. Let them cook about 5 minutes without turning, then remove.
Meanwhile, prepare the blackberry sauce: Place a small saucepan over medium heat. Add 1/2 cup sugar and let it caramelize to a light golden color, stirring with a wooden spoon. Add 1/2 cup balsamic vinegar to the caramelized sugar and let it come to a boil and reduce for 5 minutes.(Note: Stand back when adding the vinegar, as it will create an explosive reaction with the sugar.) Then stir in 1/2 cup chicken stock and 1/2 cup blackberry preserves. Let this simmer while the meat is cooking, about 15 minutes. Remove from the heat and stir in 2 tablespoons cold butter.
To assemble this dish, slice the pork and sausage and place them down the middle of a large serving platter. Place the grilled sweet potato and pears along the side. Garnish with 1 cup fresh whole blackberries and ladle sauce over the meat.
Pear Tarte Tatin
To make the tart dough, add 1 1/3 cups flour to a food processor along with 1/4 cup confectioner’s sugar and 1/2 teaspoon salt. Pulse this mixture until combined and add 1 stick of butter cut into small pieces. Pulse the butter into the flour mixture until combined and it resembles coarse cornmeal. Add 1 large egg and pulse until a dough forms.
Turn the dough out onto a floured surface and mold it into a disc. Wrap in plastic film and refrigerate for 30 minutes.
Meanwhile, peel 5 Bosc pears and cut them in half through the stem. Remove the core with a spoon and cut them in half again. Leave one half pear for the center of the dish. Toss the peeled pears with the zest and juice from 1 lemon and 2 tablespoons sugar.
Melt 4 tablespoons butter in a 10-inch cast-iron skillet and sprinkle 2/3 cup sugar over the butter. Let this cook at medium heat for about 5 minutes and remove from the heat. Place the half pear in the middle, core side up, and fan the pear quarters around the center. Make them overlap and there will be just enough to fill the pan.
Put the pan back on medium heat and let it cook, uncovered, for about 25 minutes, or until a golden caramel color develops. Do not stir or disturb the pears. Remove from the heat and sprinkle 1 teaspoon ground nutmeg over the pears.
Roll out the dough into a circle a little larger than the pan and place it on top of the pears, tucking in the excess dough inside the pan. Place the pan in a 375-degree oven and cook for 30 minutes, or until golden brown and bubbling. Remove from the oven and let cool about 10 minutes. Place a large plate or serving platter over the skillet and flip it over quickly, using oven mitts to protect from burning. Let it cool to room temperature and serve with ice cream.
John Ross, a chef and author, has been an active part of the North Fork food and wine community for more than 35 years. Email: [email protected].