Be that as it may, this month’s challenge was particularly interesting for me. It was Fruits of the Grill, while avoiding such items as Peaches and Pineapple (cause they have been all over the Food Network for years). Yes, and while Grapes and Blueberries might pose complications, there are many other fruits out there that will more than likely benefit from a quick fly by the BBQ to receive some ultra sexy grill marks. Yeah, that’s right. I said it… Grill marks just make food sexy. I am pretty darn sure that this penchant for ‘Fire Branding’ is related somehow to the ‘Open Flame’ gene on the Y chromosome, but hey, whaddya gonna do?
So back to Fruit Flamage... I finally decided that I was going to do a spin on a fruit salad that my mom would make when I was a kid. We always made a trip to Hood River, in the early fall, to pick up crates of both Elberta peaches and Red Bartlett pears.
I am going to digress for a second about the peaches before returning to the pears… Elberta peaches have GOT to be the best peach on the planet… I swear… It was the original “Georgia Peach” until the 60s when industrial hybrids started taking over. The sad part is that in the early 80’s, in Hood River, a really late frost decimated the trees, now the orchards have all been replanted with something called ‘Western Pride’
My parents would ‘pressure can’ all the peaches and pears for the winter months, well, after a few nights of fresh fruit. I was not able to get my hands on a fresh red Bartlett; it’s still a little early… But since I am grilling it, I really think a d’Anjou will hold up better as it's a little firmer than the Bartlett. Red d’Anjous originated as naturally occurring bud sports found on Green d’Anjou trees. "Bud sports" are spontaneous, naturally occurring genetic mutations occurring on trees and plants; they are fairly rare and often go unnoticed. Red Anjous, however, did not go unnoticed; in fact this rarity occurred twice. The first red sport of Anjou was discovered in the 50's near Medford, OR, and a second red sport was discovered in the late 70's in Parkdale, OR (Parkdale is just south of Hood River).
OK, I promise -- that is the end of my fruit filled musings. The original fruit salad hails from those chill evening in the middle of January; mom would break out a jar of pears and make this fruit salad. Very simple and very delicious… OH HO!!!! I think I just experienced an epiphany while I am typing this up… I think this particular dish is responsible for my Sweet & Salty fascination. My mothers original version was simply a Pear half sprinkled with shredded Sharp Cheddar cheese with a small dollop of homemade Mayonnaise and a colorful sprinkle of Paprika. Deliciously sweet yet salty from the cheddar and a slight tang from the Mayonnaise. It was one of my favorite things growing up, and even when I didn't really know how to cook, I could still assemble a pretty good facsimile... Yeah, the store bought mayo is a little lacking...
Tonight, however, I am going to put a spin on this, since my "potential ingredient" knowledge has been expanded over the years. With that being said, the Pears are to be grilled, the Sharp Cheddar has become Pecorino Romano, the Mayonnaise has transformed into Crème Fraîche and the Paprika has morphed into Cinnamon. And T-H-E-N, I'm going to drizzle the whole thing with a Balsamic Reduction AND an Orange Muscat-Cinnamon Reduction.
OK, I'll admit I am kind of going over the top a little. But hey, that is the purpose of the BakeSpace Challenge... Exercising your Creative Muscle. This would not be my first flop... and I am sure that it will still be somewhat edible when I am done... LOL
Grilled Pear Salad
2 d’Anjou or Bosc pears (If you are simply going to serve this un-grilled, I would suggest a Comice pear)
1/2 of a Lemon
Shredded Pecorino Romano
Orange Muscat Reduction
Walnut, Macadamia Nut Oil or even a cooking spray (for brushing the fruit)
The reductions are fairly simple....
For the Orange Muscat Reduction, place 1 1/4 cups Orange Muscat wine in a sauce pan over low heat, add a cinnamon stick and bring to a simmer... (Try not to actually boil it)
Reduce to about 1/3 cup and set aside to cool before pouring into a little squeeze bottle.
For the Balsamic Reduction, place 3/4 cup Balsamic Vinegar in a sauce pan, bring to a gentle simmer until reduced to about 1/2 cup (it will be pretty thick at this point)
Remove from heat and cool before pouring into another little squeeze bottle.
OK, Grilled Pear Time....
Begin heating the BBQ Grill or your Grill pan.
Peel and slice the pears and half, lengthwise; remove the core.
Rub each half of the pear with the Lemon to prevent browning.
Lightly coat the grill with oil or cooking spray.
Place the pears, cut side down, on the hot grill for 2 minutes.
Turn and grill the backside for another minute or 2. (Common, tell me those grill marks aren't just sexy)
Place in a dish and sprinkle with Shredded Pecorino Romano; place a small dollop of Crème Fraîche in the spot where the core was removed then sprinkle with a pinch of Cinnamon (this is more fore décor purposes than anything else, Mace will work too)
Drizzle with Balsamic Reduction
Drizzle with Orange Muscat Reduction
Serve with more Chilled Orange Muscat…
I guess the premise was OK, but it needs work... Especially with the plating... What a Mess!!!
It didn't turn out the way I had it pictured in my head. The flavor was still really good, but I think it needed more cheese, and I think I will drop the Orange Muscat Reduction... Just a little too much sweet that didn't need to be there. I would have been better off just brushing the pear face with Grand Marnier.