From Anik’s Kitchen: Pears in Port
As a part of the Vienna salon cookout, I prepared one of my favorite dessert classics – pears in port. It’s a dish that is amazingly simple to prepare (the most demanding part is cutting the fans), but never fails to impress.
The secret is the port wine, and the contrasting sensation of cold ice cream and hot fruit, which make it the perfect, sensuous solution to the “he/she/* is coming to dinner and I need to convey my prurient interests in a subtle, culinary manner” situation. If he/she goes home after this one, cross them off the list. – People who cannot enjoy food, do, in my experience, have a general problem with sensuality. In which case you might be better of on your own (and with seconds of this dish!), or sharing the dessert with your friends.
The root of this recipe resides with Switzerland’s renowned Betty Bossi cookbooks, particularly the dessert section of the “Italian Cuisine”, which sports a recipe of pears in Marsala, with caramel and homemade vanilla ice cream.
Since Marsala is difficult to organize (and highly overpriced) outside Italy and Switzerland, however, and since it is very sweet for my taste, I have tried my way through a line of spirits in its lieu, ending up with port.
Pears in Port
Ingredients (for 4 servings):
- 2 large, ripe pears – they mustn’t be too hard
- about 100-200ml of port, depending on the size of your saucepan
- walnut ice cream, one scoop per serving.
- Halve the pears, peel off the skin and remove the seeds.
- In a saucepan, heat up the port wine (a bit over medium heat; it needs to be simmering, but it’s not supposed to vanish).
- Place the pear halves into the pan, with the even, inner side down. The pears shouldn’t be covered with port, but stand “with their feet” (a few millimeters) in the liquid.
- Simmer gently for about 5-10 minutes (depends on how soft the pears were to begin with) until the pear is well-soaked with port and softening.
- Turn the halves around and simmer for 3 more minutes.
- The pears are done when they feel soft to the pressure of a wooden spoon overall. Soft, not squishy!
- Place each pear half on a dessert plate, the even side down. Lift it out o the pan with a spatula and do NOT pour away the port. Let it reduce a little on medium heat while you cut the pears.
- Now comes the tricky part: with a sharp knife, make even, lengthwise cuts into each pear, leaving the thin, top side intact.
- Gently open each half pear to a fan, without tearing off a “leaf”!
- Pour the remaining port from the pan over the pears.
- Serve with a spoonful of walnut ice cream. – It also works with vanilla ice cream, of course, but the combined flavors of of walnut and port are just too perfect to miss.