For the last few years, a favorite local restaurant had an appetizer on its menu that I would order every time Roger and I dined there. It was a wine-poached pear with melted blue cheese served on flatbread. I absolutely loved the sweetness of the pear combined with the savory blue cheese; and, when I bit into it, I enjoyed the transition from soft, luscious pear to thin, crunchy flatbread. The combination of taste and texture was deliciously addictive.
Last year, the restaurant closed its doors temporarily and moved to another location in my hometown. I had been eagerly awaiting their reopening so that I could enjoy my favorite appetizer once again as well as my favorite salad (stay tuned!). Imagine my disappointment when Roger and I went to the new location and found that the pear appetizer was no longer on the menu. In fact, the newly hired waitress wasn’t even familiar with it. As I tried to describe the appetizer to the waitress, I realized—hey, I know all the components of the appetizer. Why don’t I just experiment a little and make it myself?
So I did—and, if I must say so myself, the results are frantastic!
Wine-Poached Pears with Blue Cheese
For Poached Pears
- 3 large peeled, cored and sliced pears (recommend Bosc or Anjou)
- 3/4 cup of red wine (recommend Merlot)
- 6 tbl. of granulated sugar
- 1 tbl. of lemon juice
- 1 package of flatbread or make your own
- 1 to 4 tbl. of crumbled blue cheese, depending on size of flatbread used and your personal taste
- Reduced wine sauce from poached pears for drizzling
For Poached Pears
Combine red wine, granulated sugar and lemon juice and bring to a boil. Once the wine mixture is boiling, turn heat down to a simmer and add the pears. Simmer pears for 8-10 minutes and then turn pears and simmer for an additional 8-10 minutes. They are done when they are tender and are easily poked through with a fork. Remove pears, leaving wine sauce, and set aside until they are cool.
Boil wine sauce until the liquid has been reduced by half and has a syrupy consistency.
Lay out pieces of flatbread on a cookie sheet. The size of the flatbread I purchased was approximately 3″ x 6″, and I used 6 pieces of the flatbread. The size of your poached pear slices will vary, but arrange them so that they completely cover the flatbread, cutting pears to size in order to do so. Any part of the flatbread that is not covered by the pears and left exposed will be vulnerable to burning when you broil the pears.
Sprinkle the pears with crumbled blue cheese to your liking. The amount will depend on the size of the flatbread you use and how much you like blue cheese. We love blue cheese, so I was pretty liberal with my sprinkling and totally covered the pears except for a small margin by the outer edges.
Turn your oven broiler on. When it is hot and glowing, place the cookie sheet with the pears on an oven shelf one rung lower than the top position closest to the broiler. Broil for approximately one minute until the cheese melts and remove immediately. Turn on your oven light and watch the pears very closely! Obviously, ovens vary—but I can tell you that the cheese on my pears melted in about 50 seconds. I had set my timer to 2 minutes the first time I made these and didn’t watch them closely. After about a minute, I smelled something burning. When I got to the oven and took them out at 1 1/2 minutes, the outer edges of the flatbread were quite burned. I just broke the burned edges off, and we were able to enjoy them anyway.
If you are serving these strictly as an appetizer, place them on individual plates, and drizzle the reduced wine sauce over the top of the melted blue cheese. I placed mine on top of some baby spinach and arugula, threw in some spicy glazed pecans, and drizzled the wine sauce over all. Yum!
Source: Poached pears adapted from about.com; otherwise a frantastic original.