For me, a little cheese goes a long way. I know, I know. Real cheese lovers won’t be able to relate to this. At all. I know because I have committed cheese lovers in my own family and I look in amazement whenever they polish off a whole, hefty wedge of über-rich Saint-André in one sitting. And this AFTER dinner!
If you’ve ever tasted it, you know what I’m talking about. It is RICH. If you haven’t, it’s a considerably creamier and more intense-tasting version of brie cheese made. It’s made from French triple crème cow’s milk…I mean, do I need to say more?
I absolutely adore its taste and texture, which goes so well with some crusty bread. But a small slice is pretty much all I can handle…which is why I love this roasted pear recipe!
It gives me the decadent flavor of a rich tasting cheese, like brie or Saint-André, without then feeling like a big piece of walking sludge. This dish is so light, in fact, that you can eat one of these pear halves effortlessly. Even after a substantial meal. It’s that light.
But back to the flavor for a second…if the intensity of the cheese weren’t enough, now add caramelized pears, toasted walnuts and slightly sweetened cranberries to the mix, and…well, it’s pretty magical.
I now serve it in lieu of a cheese plate after one of my fancier, more elaborate dinner parties. I also serve them as dessert when I have gluten-sensitive friends over.
Either way, the palate wins.
One last thing…I always like to Google the recipes I’m making to see what other people are doing and I found two recipes I wanted to share.
The first recipe, Ruby Roasted Pears, look dramatic. So dramatic, in fact, that I want to make them. Like, right now! But you’ll need to plan ahead, since it takes 3 days to make if you follow the recommendation to marinade the pears in their syrup for up to 3 days. Still. They look amazing.
The second recipe, Roasted Pears, is essentially the first recipe’s antithesis in that it’s extremely simple and straight-forward and takes about 40 minutes to make (with most of that time being passive baking time). I love the idea of roasting them and then pairing it with some really rich and creamy French vanilla ice cream. Yum.
making roasted pears with brie & cranberries
Preheat your oven at 400°F.
Wash 2 Red d’Anjou pears. In order to achieve the right texture, by the way, make sure to use pears that are ripe but still nice and firm. (Squishy pears will create a squishy roasted pear and who needs that?)
Slice them lengthwise into halves. A good way to do it is to create an imaginary line with your knife between the husk, or calyx, of the pear and the stalk.
Slice it carefully and work the knife slowly up to the stalk.
Alas, only one of the halves will get to keep the stalk, but you don’t want to accidentally cut if off because they make the pears look so pretty.
Using a spoon, remove the core and seeds from each half.
This will leave you with a nice and round well for the yummy filling.
Heat a skillet on medium heat and then brush (or spray) with olive oil. Right before adding the pear slices, wipe each cut side with a paper towel to absorb any moisture that has creeped out from the pear onto the surface.
The principle here is the same as when you’re trying to brown meat. Moisture will interfere with that nice browning you want to achieve. See how nice and dry the pear looks now?
Place the pears in the oven-proof skillet, cut side down, and cook for 3 minutes, or until they develop a nice golden color on the surface. Flip over on skin side.
Place the skillet in the oven (on an oven shelf right placed right smack in the middle) and lower the temperature to 375°F. Bake 10 minutes.
Remove the pears from the oven and turn on the broiler on high (leave the oven shelf still in the middle). Divvy up 1 tablespoon of salted butter among the four pear halves. Then pour ½ cup of boiling water to the bottom of the skillet, making sure not to pour it on the actual pears!
Divvy up 1 oz. of Brie cheese (or Saint-André cheese) and a handful of walnuts and cranberries among the pear halves. Drizzle a bit of honey and return the skillet to the oven.
Broil for 1-2 minutes, until the cheese and walnuts begin to color nicely. Sprinkle each half with alittle sea salt and serve immediately. Makes 4 servings.