Mon Nov 22, 2010
Thanksgiving excitement is brewing—meal is planned, shopping list is with my Mom, and packing has commenced. With all of that behind, now starts the plotting of a cooking strategy, the enormous process of putting together a dinner big enough for 12, to be eaten by 6 (leftovers! leftovers!), in a kitchen made for 2. The task can be daunting and a timeline almost down to the minute is a must. It's a given that with such a large meal prepared in tight quarters, tensions will be high, and I look to the grill as my godsend. Not only can it move some cooking outside of the kitchen, it can also offer a well needed moment of solitude in any otherwise hectic and social day. After the total gluttony of the feast, I see dessert as a great time to retreat to the grill and put together something a little lighter, more simple, but no less delicious to finish the night—like this recipe for Bartlett pears a la mode.
Truth be told, pears are not my favorite—I'm always fooled by their applish good looks, but the taste and denser texture are not something I find as pleasing. I often look to the grill to make things better though, and saw a brighter future for these pears that hot coals would bring about. Oh, and the ice cream and loads of sugar were certain to help too.
Before the pears were taken to the flames, they were coated in a sinful mixture of butter, brown sugar, cinnamon, and vanilla. Their future was already shaping up to be something great.
The real magic didn't happen until those buttery and sugary slices got the grilled treatment. Once over the flames, they elicited some light flare-ups due to the dripping fat. While I'd normally quickly move the offending foods to a cooler spot on the grill, I let them go here with a little extra heat.
It was a good call, because the flames created a great crackling crust on the pears—think creme brulee. Even though I'm no pear enthusiast, the site of these when I first flipped them had me salivating. They were so close to being eaten right off the grill, but I followed the recipe and boiled down the extra sugar mixture to create a syrup first, done on the grill, of course.
Now it was time to assemble—pears, topped with ice cream, and then drizzled with the syrup. Just reading that combination, how could anyone not like it? Even if there are doubters out there, it would only take one taste to transform them into believers.
There was so much good stuff going on here that spanned many excellent contrasts: hot and cold, sweet and tart, creamy and crisp. It all came together into one tasty treat that not only would be a fitting end to a Thanksgiving meal, but has the added bonus of an escape via the grill that could be just what's needed after a long day in a crowded kitchen.
Grilled Bartlett Pears a la ModeRecipe adapted from Weslie Colbert
5 Bartlett pears
1 stick butter
1 1/2 cups brown sugar
2 teaspoons ground cinnamon
2 tablespoons Mexican vanilla extract
1 quart vanilla ice cream
1. Cut pears into thick slices (4 to 5 per pear). Place slices in a large bowl. Melt butter in a small saucepan over low heat. Pour melted butter over pears. Add brown sugar, cinnamon, and vanilla to the bowl and toss until pears are thoroughly coated with the mixture.
2. Light one chimney full of charcoal. When all the charcoal is lit and covered with gray ash, pour out and spread the coals evenly over the charcoal grate. Place pears directly on the hot grill. Cook for 3 to 4 minutes on each side, until the nicely browned. Remove pears and place in individual dessert bowls.
3. Pour remaining butter mixture into a medium, grill-safe saucepan. Place saucepan on grill and cook, stirring, until boiling. Remove from heat.
4. Place 2 scoops of vanilla ice cream over the pears in each bowl. Pour butter sauce over ice cream and serve.