Friday, September 26, 2008

In Season: Pears!

As regular readers know, I write the Market Watch column for the Oregonian's FoodDay section and get to travel to farmers' markets all over the metro area. And right now pears are the big deal. You'll find everything from Green Bartletts to Starkrimson to Comice, Seckel and Forelle, not to mention my personal favorite, the Bosc, at markets and stores all over town.

Which is why the Pear Bureau Northwest hosted a competition called Pear Panache, asking chefs all over the country to submit their favorite pear recipe. Seven winners were chosen and the first to be featured for his Pear Ginger Chutney was Vindalho's own David Anderson, whom I wrote about last February in an article profiling David and his twin brother, Ray.

To celebrate, the pear folks and Vindalho hosted an all-pear Indian lunch. Now, this might seem like overkill, but each course (there were three) had a distinctly different flavor profile, yet with a thread of flavor and texture that ran through the whole meal. First was a Bhel Puri salad (photo, above left) of pears, potatoes, watercress, puffed rice and chutneys that got things off to a fabulous start with the crispness of the pears playing off the savory chutneys and the textural intrigue of the other ingredients, pulled together with a creamy dressing that made it, in my opinion, the best dish on the menu.

It was a close competition, though, when the main course of tandoor roasted lamb Boti Kabab was served with that winning Pear Ginger Chutney, along with Vindalho's classic saffron basmati pullao and their always-incredible naan. And the dessert of a tamarind-pear samosa with spiced creme Anglaise was to die for.

Like I've said before, how lucky am I?

Pear Ginger ChutneyFrom David Anderson, Chef de Cuisine, Vindalho
Makes 4 cups

4-5 Comice or Bartlett pears, peeled, cored and diced (about 6 cups)
2 Tbsp. canola or olive oil
8 whole cloves
4 cardamom pods
2 cinnamon sticks
2 dried arbol chiles
2 Tbsp. fennel seeds
1 Tbsp. nigella seeds
1 medium onion, finely chopped
2 Tbsp. julienne sliced ginger
2 Tbsp. garlic, thinly sliced
3/4 c. packed brown sugar
3/4 c. granulated sugar
1/2 c. cider vinegar
1 Tbsp. finely chopped ginger
1 Tbsp. Kosher salt
1/2 tsp. cayenne
1/2 tsp. turmeric

In a medium saucepan, heat oil over medium-high heat. Add whole cloves, cardamom pods, cinnamon sticks, chiles, fennel and nigella seeds. Cook 1 minute or until fragrant. Add onions; sauté until browned. Add julienne ginger and garlic; sauté 3 minutes, stirring frequently. Add remaining ingredients except pears and simmer until slightly syrupy, 10-15 minutes.

Add pears and simmer until tender but still hold their shape, 15-30 minutes depending on ripeness of pears. When pears are cooked, use a slotted spoon to transfer chutney to a tray to cool. If desired, remove large pieces of whole spices. Return any remaining liquid to stove and simmer until thick and syrupy. Combine hot syrup and pears in a bowl. Cool completely to allow flavors to mingle. Serve with naan or pappadums.


Anonymous said...

Hi Kab - Thanks for visiting my blog and for your comments. I read the Market Watch column every week but didn't realize you wrote it. If you visit the Beaverton market I hope you stop by to say hello. Your wonderful blog is filled with great information. I'm busy every weekend at my market so don't get out to see what is going on around town. Its nice to read about it. Thanks. And I'm enjoying going back through your archives. Great stuff!

Kathleen Bauer said...

Glad you're enjoying reading! And thanks!

Nico said...

I enjoyed your article about co ops in the Oregonian. Any suggestions for what to do with a bunch of somewhat wormy apples? (Besides compost them...)

Kathleen Bauer said...

Thanks! The co-op folks were great, and I certainly learned a lot doing the article.

As for wormy apples, assuming you like the taste of the apple itself and there's enough of it left after you cut out the wormy bits, I'd say use them for applesauce or an apple dessert that calls for chunks rather than nice even slices. Anyone else have a suggestion for Nicole?