Pear cookery is the subject of the day. Of course, for such an effort one needs pears, and when one needs pears one is confronted inevitably with the Bosc-Bartlett dilemma. (Okay, there’s Anjou and Comice etc., but let’s be real.) Despite sounding like a physics theorem or a House budget proposal, Bosc-Bartlett is universally familiar. And as I stood before the adjacent towers of Bartletts (green) and Boscs (brown), I was reminded of the Curb Your Enthusiasm episode, which hinges on the Bosc-Bartlett confusion.
To my mind, they’re interchangeable, the only notable difference being shape. I prefer the Bartlett, which is fuller-it reminds me of a bumpy baby’s head-and thus more impressive on the plate. The issue then, is how to cook these similar fruits. Because they hold their shape, pears are ideal for poaching. However, a roasted pear is equally delicious, though a bit more challenging. Roasting fruit is not as easy as it sounds: the goal is a unit of contradictory properties, caramelized on the outside but juicy and tender on the inside.
There’s nothing worse than a dried-out chunk of roasted fruit; the fruit world’s equivalent of an overdone piece of salmon. The key is surrounding and basting the fruit with just enough sugary liquid, which will coat the pears as they brown. You should also pack them together in the dish; the juices seep out and mingle nicely.
It all depends on what you’re looking for: a hot pear, soft and slightly golden out of the oven, or a darker, almost candied fruit sitting in a sticky sauce. Straight from the Chanterelle dessert cookbook, this recipe results in the latter, but you can’t go wrong with either version, especially accompanied by a dollop of full-fat strained yogurt. About these pears there’s no confusion.
Honey Roasted Pears (adapted from Chanterelle dessert cookbook by Kate Zuckerman)
Yield: 10 pears
2 tablespoons butter
¾ cup sugar
¾ cup honey
strained Greek yogurt
- Preheat oven to 425.
- Peel zest into a few strips. Peel pears and slice section 1/3 inch off the bottom so they can stand up.
- Place in pan tightly along with the sugar, honey, and butter. (They mix by themselves in the oven.)
- Bake pears for 30 minutes then turn over onto one side and bake 20 minutes. Turn onto the other side and bake 20 minutes more.
- Stand the pears up, baste with juices and bake 15 minutes. Repeat, basting every 15 minutes for another 45 minutes. You may need to roast further.
- Serve with the caramel sauce and yogurt. Removing the core from the bottom with a little knife is optional (for me at least).