Help! Need recipe for candied pears (for spinach salad)
A long time ago, I had a memorable spinach and candied pear salad with blue cheese in a small nice restaurant off of Route 1 in New Canaan, CT. I'd like to recreate it but cannot find the right recipe from my searches. The candied pear came in strips and it was moist (for something candied) and sweet. It was served piled high in the middle of the greens and surrounded by blue cheese bits. I've tried google, epicurious and foodtv, but no luck.
I was trying to find the recipe I've used from Bon Appetit, but I couldn't find the exact one on Epicurious. But basically what I've done is used slightly firm pears, peeled and cored, and then cubed (or not ... they'd be pretty in halves too.) Sprinkle them with sugar and then saute them in pan with a little oil, letting them cook til they're lightly brown. From there, I take the pears out and then make a warm balsamic vinaigrette with the juices that have accumulated in the pan.
Another trick is to soak dried pear slices in a bit of sweet wine or apple juice until softened and plump and then add to your salad as a garnish. Very tasty.
As an alternative to sauteing, you can roast peeled (or not) and cored pear halves that have been sliced into four wedges in a 400° oven; toss them in a little melted butter, sugar and lemon juice first. Roast the wedges for about twenty-thirty minutes an a parchment lined baking sheet, stirring half way through, until they're browned. This will concentrate the sugar and caramelize the exterior. Cool before using. Either Bosc or firm Anjous are a good choice.
I used to make a salad like the one you had at a restaurant I worked at in CT, but with mixed field greens, and tossed with crumbled bleu cheese and toasted walnuts, and topped with the roasted pears.
If you want real candied pear slices, peel, core and slice a firm pear into 8 wedges; in the meanwhile, combine 2 cups water and 2 cups sugar, or sub a dry white wine for the water, bring to boil and simmer for 6-7 minutes or until the syrup is just slightly thickened, submerge the pear in the syrup (you may have to cover the pears with a small plate to keep them down in the syrup) and simmer until translucent, from 6-8 minutes. A few whole cloves or half a cinnamon stick in the sugar syrup will add extra flavor. Remove from syrup, place on a parchment lined sheet pan and bake in a 300° oven until the wedges are quite dry. This may take 15-20 minutes. Let cool on rack and allow to dry overnight or even longer before storing them. These will be moist and sweet and may be very close to what you enjoyed.
My mom always made them by boiling pears (after being peeled, cored and sliced) with a bunch of sugar. As she would say, "When you think there's enough sugar, add a little more." She also added a little red food coloring, for fun. I usually use about a cup or so of sugar per 2 pears. Once they're peeled and cored, they're easy to cook!