(x-posted to vampyre_kitty.livejournal.com)
Rough week for me in the kitchens. I did poached pears that took me all 3 class days due to various issues, and I was just really displeased with how it turned out.
The base ingredients:
8 pears, peeled and cored (with stems intact)
10 whole peppercorns
about 1/2 cup port
5-6 cups burgundy (in the book it called for 52 fl oz zinfandel, but there was none)
1 oz basil, chopped
zest of 1 orange
10 oz sugar
Basically you whack it all into a large saucepan (non-reactive), bring it to a boil, and simmer for 1 to 1 1/2 hours.
Then chill the pears, and strain the wine mixture back into a saucepan (I believe I switched to a large flat skillet at this point to get more surface area in contact with heat)
Reduce until it coats the back of a spoon.
Serve pears chilled on a pool of sauce.
Here’s where I disagreed: Chef had me reduce the sauce WAY further than where I would have taken it. I’m thinking… served on sauce… you want to actually be able to get sauce onto the pear, right? By the time I was allowed to take my skillet off the heat, the damn sauce was the consistency of caramel. So after it cooled a little, it was… well, it was like caramel. Difficult to spoon, harder to spread out on a plate, and definitely not what I wanted. It did taste good, but… texture too, man!
The other thing was that there was this big honkin’ hole in each pear where I’d scooped out the core and seeds, so he had me fill it. Which I didn’t object to. The filling was a mixture of cream cheese, ricotta, and sour cream. He gave me no parameters on how to sweeten it, so I used honey. Which liquefied the sauce completely, so then I had to fold in dissolved gelatin powder to thicken it back up again. It made me angry. Plus after all that effort, it basically tasted like sweetened mascarpone. So why did I even go to all that effort, when I could have just used mascarpone and maybe some brown sugar and not panicked that I had a crappy filling?
In the end, it did turn out pretty tasty, but I’m just really not thrilled about how it all went down. And I was stuck in the dishroom most of the evening so I didn’t even get a chance to snag some of the pork chops and potatoes au gratin that the international cuisine students made. Sad.