Cider-poached Pears with Blue Cheese, Pickled Fennel and Macadamia Nuts

6

PORTIONS

Ingredients

Cider-poached Pears

  • 1kg pears
  • 300g sugar
  • 1/2 tsp fennel seeds
  • 1 star anise
  • 1 bay leaf
  • 2 cups pear cider
  • 1 cup apple juice

Pickled Fennel

  • 2 large fennel bulbs
  • 1/2 cup cider vinegar
  • 1/2 cup chardonnay vinegar
  • 2 tbsp sugar
  • 1 cup water
  • 1 tsp fennel seeds
  • 6 white peppercorns
  • 6 juniper berries
  • 1 bay leaf

Burnt Butter Dressing

  • 100g salted butter, cut into large cubes
  • juice of 1 lemon
  • 2 tbsp vincotto
  • 2 tbsp macadamia oil

To Cook and Serve

  • cider-poached pears, drained
  • cooking oil
  • flaky sea salt and freshly cracked black pepper
  • pickled fennel, drained
  • 2 handfuls rocket
  • 50g blue cheese, crumbled
  • 1/2 cup macadamia nuts, toasted in a dry pan, chopped
  • burnt butter dressing

Method

I am very fond of blue cheese, yet I hated the stuff when I was a kid, and that was before I had even tasted it. A large part of my desire to become a chef was my awakening to the flavours and culinary possibilities I had shied away from in my early years. These moreish pears poached in cider and caramel are beautiful even served with just a dollop of mascarpone cheese.


Cider-poached Pears

Prepare the pears by peeling, halving and removing the cores and stalks.Place the sugar in a large saucepan on medium heat. Cook without stirring until the sugar begins to turn golden. 

Now stir the sugar to even out the caramel colour. Add in the fennel seeds, star anise and bay leaf and cook the caramel until a rich amber colour. Pour in the cider and apple juice, being mindful that it will steam up when the liquid hits the sugar.

Place the prepared pears in the liquid. Cover with baking paper and submerge the pears, using a small plate to weight them down. Cook on a low simmer for 5 minutes, then remove from the heat and cool in the liquid. Refrigerate until required.

 

Pickled Fennel

Prepare the fennel by cutting bulbs in half, removing the cores and tops, then slice into thin strips. Place in a bowl along with some of the green fennel fronds.

Place the two vinegars, sugar, water, fennel seeds, peppercorns, juniper berries and bay leaf in a small saucepan. Heat until simmering, then pour over the sliced fennel. Cover with cling wrap and cool on the bench. Refrigerate until required. Leave for 24 hours for best results.

 

Burnt Butter Dressing

Place the diced butter in a saucepan on medium heat. Swirl it around the saucepan until frothy and nutty. Once the butter is a rich brown colour, squeeze in the lemon juice to stop the cooking. Beware of steam. 

Pour the butter mix through a sieve into a measuring jug and cool for 5 minutes. Using a wand blender, blitz the vincotto and macadamia oil into the butter mix until emulsified.

Keep the dressing in an airtight container until required.

 

To Cook and Serve

Heat your grill pan to smoking hot. 

Lightly oil the pears, then season with salt and pepper. Chargrill for 5 minutes on each side to caramelise and heat through. Remove from the grill and cut each half into four pieces.

In a large mixing bowl, lightly toss together the grilled pear, pickled fennel, rocket, blue cheese and chopped nuts. Shake up your dressing and lightly coat the salad. Season to taste.

Place your grilled pear salad on serving plates and finish off with an extra hit of the dressing.

 

Wine match, Waipara Hills 2015 Soul Mound Riesling
Wonderfully tight with a refreshing spritz.
The poached pear and caramelised flavours of the burnt butter will work beautifully with the richness of the Soul Mound Riesling, which has flavours of citrus, mandarin and a touch of honey. Both the dish and the wine have a good balance of acidity and sweetness which will complement each other.

 

Credit: Depot: The Biography of a Restaurant by Al Brown. RRP $70, published by Random House, photography by Kieran Scott.