Soft and juicy Bartlett pears are the summer standard, but this time of year, winter pears, including d’Anjou, Bosc and Forelle, complement spices like cinnamon, cloves and nutmeg. Chefs are taking advantage of the fruit in more than just dessert; it can be eaten raw, but is also well-suited for baking and poaching.
Mangia Italiano has been serving fresh pasta and Italian espresso in south St. Louis for 33 years, but seven months ago, chef-owner James Bonsanti put pears on a pizza for the first time since taking over operations in 2011. The Pyrus – Latin for pear – features housemade dough topped with garlic oil, sliced Bosc pears, prosciutto and goat cheese drizzled with honey. Bosc pears have a denser flesh than other varieties and the texture holds up well to baking. “The slight sweetness of the pears and the saltiness of the prosciutto just go well together,” Bonsanti says. “They counter each other in a really good way. You’re not getting [something] overly sweet.” You can also catch Bosc pears in the pear and Parmesan salad, featuring mixed greens, sliced pears, freshly shaved Parmesan, dried cherries, crispy prosciutto and a white balsamic vinaigrette.
Mangia Italiano, 3145 S. Grand Blvd, South Grand, St. Louis, Missouri, 314.664.8585, dineatmangia.net
Capitol Cork & Provisions
At Capitol Cork & Provisions in Jefferson City, Missouri, chef-owner Jami Wade adds a touch of sweetness to her field green salads: pear-pomegranate bread served on the side. Wade likens it to banana bread, but instead of mashed-up bananas, she uses seasonal fruits – strawberry-lemon in the summer, persimmon in the fall and d’Anjou pear and pomegranate in the winter. “[Because] the bread is seasonal, the ingredients change with the availability of fresh fruit,” she says. “Pears and pomegranates are available in the winter months when other fruits are out of season, and I love the tartness of pomegranate seeds.” Many customers remark that the bread could easily be a dessert, and she gets requests to buy loaves of the pear-pomegranate bread for the holidays. “I had an employee who brought this [recipe] to my kitchen, and we just started playing around with different fruits,” Wade says. “It’s just so versatile!”
Capitol Cork & Provisions, 124 E. High St., Jefferson City, Missouri, 573.632.2675, corkjcmo.com
Pears show up three ways in the chestnut-pear tart at Hank Charcuterie in Lawrence, Kansas: sliced, dried and in gel form. Chef de cuisine and pastry chef Jamie Everett uses Forelle pears from Trails West Farms in Eudora, Kansas. “They have incredible pears,” Everett says. “They’re super sweet; they have a really intense pear flavor and the texture’s great. They’re probably the best pears I’ve ever had.” Everett starts with a basic pastry dough and a layer of chestnut pastry cream followed by sliced Forelle pears. After baking, the tart is topped with a mix of brown sugar, butter and vanilla to keep the pears from drying out, plus goat cheese-crème fraiche, pear-cider gel, pear chips and a roasted chestnut tuile. The gel is made by baking down the leftover pear cores and skins with water, sugar and mulling spices before straining it out and turning it into a gel using agar agar. “We kept the flavors really simple so the pears could shine through. That’s why we wanted to use the chestnuts and vanilla; it’s a nice background flavor for it.”
Hank Charcuterie, 1900 Massachusetts St., Lawrence, Kansas, 785.832.8688, hankmeats.com