Pears are quintessentially fall to me. Well, pears and football. I could be totally off, but nothing screams cold-weather-on-the-horizon like a juicy pear. They’re sort of like apples’ more rustic, refined cousin, dropping into kitchens unnoticed for a brief few moments every autumn. They don’t hog the spotlight, nor do they seem to want to. And they’re the last fruit that casually comes a-callin’ before winter slam-dunks Baltimore.
So, I love pears. I mean, it’s hard not to. They’re great raw, but I really love them roasted. They keep their shape after cooking better than any other fruit I know. Serving pork tenderloin with roasted pears is a given— pork goes so well with sweet fruits. I added some of my favorite root veggies into the mix to round out the meal. Bosc pears are the heartiest pear variety, and work well together with the meat. Serve the tenderloin with spiced applesauce or chutney, if you like that sort of thing.
Might I suggest starting off your pear-themed meal with a pear and bourbon cocktail? This one is easy to make before guests arrive, and is somehow hearty and refreshing at the same time. Use Bartlett pears if you can, since they have the softest, least obtrusive skin.
The pear salad is basically a roasted Seckel pear covered with a dollop of oozing, melted blue cheese. Serve it hot on a bed of spicy greens, dressed with a sharp vinaigrette to cut the richness. It’s simple to prepare, and who doesn’t love a warm salad? Thanks to the Seckel pear’s diminutive size (they’re adorable, aren’t they?), you can serve each guest a whole pear and get away with it.
Finally, for dessert, there is nothing more delicious than a pear cobbler. Every time I make this dish, I nearly pass out at how easy it is to throw together— and how good it tastes. I guess you can’t go wrong with butter, sugar and warm fruit. Like the cocktail, I find that Bartlett pears work best with the cobbler because their delicate skins make for a delicate dessert.
So show some love for the underestimated pear. Your dinner guests will thank you.
Binny McNamara most recently cooked at Woodberry Kitchen. In her spare time, she tests recipes for her blog, http://www.binnycooks.com.