Not Moi. This is my adaptation of a *Catalonian aioli sauce, that calls for quince.
Where I live, quince(s) are hard to come by so I experimented with pears and I think this is incredibly good. It works best with ripe pears and if you can’t get Bartlett (i.e. William pears to you Europeans), use Bosc (that’s Comice to you again, over there). It’s delicious with all types of fowl/bird, roast pork or lamb. But not beef; that’s what horseradish is for… and never with fish.
Vegetarians might like to serve this with a festive nut roast type of thing.
It should be offered on the side like a condiment, rather than poured over the meat like gravy (that’s ‘au jus’, over here – sigh).
That doesn’t mean you won’t want rather a lot of it. Make it at least 4 hours in advance for the flavors to develop and it keeps well for a few days in the fridge; bring it to room temp before serving. You’ll need a food processor.
This sauce freezes well.
Notes at the end following the second recipe for Marsala Baked Pears.
PEAR and GARLIC SAUCE (enough to accompany one roast Turkey)
3 large ripe Bartlett pears
2 tablespoons of water
1 small to medium clove of garlic, peeled
¼ cup of extra virgin olive oil
Pinch of sea salt
Peel, core and roughly chop the pears. Gently simmer in a pan with a couple of tablespoons of water until tender. Set aside to cool.
In a processor, puree the pears, their juice and garlic. While the motor is running; slowly pour in the olive oil in a thin stream. Add sea salt to taste. Refrigerate a few hours for the flavors to develop. That’s it.
*Catalonia is a region of northern Spain that borders France, includes Barcelona and stretches to the Mediterranean. So – garlic rules. They’ll even add dark chocolate to a squid dish. Yummy, but I won’t be posting it.
I’m on a pear drive right now and as the aioli was very simple, below another recipe for pears; a dessert that’s a favorite of mine and can be made with peaches, nectarines or large plums, so it works year-round. I prefer to use pears in winter and local peaches in summer. It takes slightly longer to make than the above but is really easy and can be made ahead of time. It will make a wonderfully fragrant, light alternative to the stodgy pies you’re about to gorge yourselves on later this week.
6 firm (not ripe) pears
2 tablespoons / 2 oz (50g) of *vanilla sugar; or regular sugar and one vanilla bean
2 inch stick of cinnamon
1 level teaspoon of arrowroot
1 pint (570ml) of *Marsala wine
A 12 or 13 x 9 inch baking dish
Pre-heat oven to 350F / 180C
Cut the pears down the center, including through the stalk (because keeping the stalk on looks more appealing). Peel the skin off with a paring knife or potato peeler then remove the core. Arrange in the dish, cut side uppermost.
If using a vanilla bean, tuck this and the cinnamon stick amongst the pears.
Whisk the Marsala wine and sugar together and quickly pour over the pears.
Cover loosely with foil and bake for 45 mins. Remove the foil then coat both sides with juice by carefully turning each pear over then back again, cut side uppermost.
Bake a further 45 mins, uncovered.
Test with a skewer to make sure they’re tender (otherwise give them another 10 mins or so). Cool slightly then transfer just the pears to a serving dish.
Pour the baking juices into a saucepan and bring to a simmer. Mix the arrowroot with a teaspoon of cold water and using a whisk, pour into the simmering liquid. Bring to a boil and when it becomes syrupy, pour it over the pears. Cool, cover and refrigerate up to 3 days.
It’s lovely with vanilla ice cream.
(Adapted from a Delia Smith recipe)
Vanilla sugar is more economical that using a whole vanilla bean. Fill a quart jar with fine white cane sugar and insert a vanilla bean into the sugar. After a week or two the sugar will absorb the vanilla fragrance and its aroma will last a very long time. Just top up the sugar level as you use it. Alternatively you could buy a vanilla bean to use in this recipe; once the pears are cooked remove it, rinse and dry then make vanilla sugar with it. The vanilla bean in my sugar jar was used first.
Marsala wine is the Italian version of sherry and starts at about $5 a bottle. The $5 option is perfect for cooking. You can use it to make zabaglione or trifle. (Another time)
Always use arrowroot as a thickening agent when you need a clear, translucent sauce.
If you use plums or peaches, don’t bother peeling the plums but you’ll need to skin the peaches; cut a tiny X at one end, and pour boiling water over them to cover. After about 3 minutes, remove from the water and the skins will slip off; just like skinning a tomato.