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Quite honestly, my most memorable encounter with a pear came one early morning in college. I woke up with my head on fire and stumbled to the fridge for a solution. And I found it. That first bite of a slightly overripe Bosc pear felt like the cure-all.
I generally cook with Anjou (the green ones) and Bosc (the light brown ones) at varying degrees of ripeness. While we want to buy fruit at its peak of ripeness, pears are a little different. Sometimes a slightly firm and under ripe pear can be just what pickling liquid needs. Bruised or slightly overripe pears can be great for “pear-sauce” and a mix of both for the pear crisp. To me, the Bosc can be sweeter and have more texture. Anjou have a floral note and are pleasantly crisp (and really not very sweet!) when under ripe. Here are some of my favorite recipes:
I always make applesauce. Why not pear-sauce?
About 3 lbs. pears, preferably a mix of 1 under ripe (Anjou, for example) and 1 more sweet variety (Bosc), peeled, halved and cored
1 cup apple cider
2 cinnamon sticks
½ cup honey
1 tsp. dry ginger
¾ tsp. ground allspice
Juice from 1 lemon
Splash red wine vinegar
1. Cook the pears: Place the pears on a flat surface and cut them into thin slices. Heat a medium skillet over medium heat and combine them with the apple cider and cinnamon sticks. Cook over medium heat, stirring from time to time with a wooden spoon, until the pears are cooked through, 15-20 minutes.
2. Make the pear-sauce:In a separate small skillet, heat the honey over low heat until it begins to foam and turns a very light brown. Add the ginger and allspice and stir to blend. Add the honey to the cooked pears. Remove the cinnamon sticks. For a smooth texture, blend the mixture in batches in the food processor. For slightly chunky, puree only half and leave the other half chunky. Add a touch of lemon juice and the red wine vinegar. Add the cinnamon sticks back in, if desired.
Check out the rest of Alex Guarnaschelli’s Favorite Pear Recipes at People Great Ideas
Alex Guarnaschelli is an Iron Chef, Food Network celebrity chef, author of Old-School Comfort Food and the executive chef at New York City’s Butter restaurants. Read her
This article originally appeared on PEOPLE Great Ideas.