I bought some beautiful Comice pears at the farmers market without a definite plan for them. They were just so luscious, shapely, and evocative of autumn that I had to get them. Fortunately, my friend Sharon arrived at our house with this delicious dish. She brought it as a first course, but it could work just as well as a warm salad (I suggest placing each pear half on a bed of arugula or frisée, lightly dressed with lemon juice and olive oil, toasted walnuts sprinkled over), a side to chicken, pork, ham, duck, turkey, game, or as a dessert (perhaps with a little warm real maple syrup drizzled over). It would also be great with sausages, ham, or bacon at breakfast or brunch.
If apples is what you have on hand, treat them the same way, with blue cheese or something different (extra sharp Cheddar or very aged real Gouda comes to mind). If hot sauce isn’t your thing, try brushing the pear halves with some port, sherry, Madeira, or Marsala.
With the holidays coming up, this is just in time for an easy way to serve a lot of people.
- 1 firm (not ripe) pear per person
- Gorgonzola, Roquefort, Stilton, or other blue-veined cheese
- Hot sauce of your choice (Sharon used Tabasco; I used Penzey’s Berbere spice)
Wash pears and slice in half lengthwise. Remove the core/seeds with a spoon or an apple or pear corer. (I will tell you right now, I have never seen a home kitchen with an actual pear corer. I didn’t even know they existed until high school ceramics class, back in the 1970s, where we used them for easily trimming wet clay bowls thrown on the wheel.)
Sprinkle the cored pear halves lightly with hot sauce, Berbere, port, or whatever. Then carefully place some sort of blue-veined cheese on top of the halves. I used about 1 tablespoon cheese on each half, but more is good too. Or less. Your choice.
Put cheese-topped pears in a baking dish. Bake at 350 – 375 until pears are easily pieced with a fork or knife, maybe 25 – 45 minutes. These can be made ahead and rewarmed.