Here’s a pyromaniac’s version of poached pears. The whole, peeled fruit is cooked via indirect heat on the grill and frequently basted with sugar syrup to soften and sweeten the flesh. Drizzled with a buttered balsamic reduction sauce, the pears make a delightful fall dessert.
Prep: 15 minutes
Grill: 30 to 40 minutes.
GRILL TOOLS AND EQUIPMENT
– Small disposable aluminum foil pan
– Long-handled tongs
– Long-handled basting brush
– Long-handled spatula.
– For a kiss of smoke in the pears, soak 1 cup apple or cherry wood chips or chunks in water for 30 minutes. (Hickory would be too harsh here.) Toss the chips on the coals and, when you see smoke, add the pan of pears to the grill. If using gas, put the chips in a smoker box or in a perforated foil packet directly over one of the heated burners.
– To make Maple Grill-Roasted Pears, replace the water and sugar with 1 cup pure maple syrup (pancake syrup will be too thick). Mix the maple syrup with the vanilla extract and brush onto the pears as directed. Omit the balsamic vinegar sauce. Serve with any remaining maple syrup and vanilla ice cream.
Pears are so soft that most varieties never make it to market. But a few common types are firm enough to be grilled. These include Bosc, Forelle, and Winter Nelis. Boscs have a golden or light brown skin with firm yet tender white flesh. Forelles are red-skinned and speckled with firm, grainy flesh. Winter Nelis pears are smaller and rounded, with green or red skin, but their firm flesh still makes them suitable for the grill. We call for Bosc pears here because they are widely available, but beautiful red Forelles are even better, especially for Grilled Pears Drizzled with Melted Stilton.
Indirect heat, medium (350°F)
3- or 4-burner grill-middle burner(s) off
2-burner grill–1 side off
Clean, oiled grate
Indirect heat, medium ash
Split charcoal bed (about 2 dozen coals per side)
20 replacement coals
Clean, oiled grate on medium setting.
INGREDIENTS (MAKES 4 SERVINGS)
1 cup water plus hot water for the foil pan
½ cup plus 1 teaspoon sugar
½ teaspoon vanilla extract
4 just-ripe Bosc pears
Juice of ½ lemon
¼ cup best-quality balsamic vinegar
1 tablespoon butter
Pinch of grated nutmeg.
1. Heat the grill as directed.
2. Put the 1 cup water and the ½ cup sugar in a small saucepan. Heat over medium heat, stirring once or twice, until the sugar dissolves, 3 to 5 minutes. Remove from the heat, stir in the vanilla, and let cool.
3. Peel the pears, but leave the stems intact. Cut a small slice from the bottom of each pear to make them stand upright. Cut out the core from the bottom of each pear, using a small, thin knife or the small side of a melon baller. Immediately brush the pears all over with the lemon juice, including the cavity.
4. Put the pears upright in a disposable aluminum pan large enough to hold them, and pour in enough hot water to just cover the bottom. Put the pan on the grill away from the heat, cover the grill, and cook until the pears are tender, 30 to 40 minutes. As they cook, baste the pears frequently with the sugar syrup, using tongs to steady them as you baste. If your grill has a temperature gauge, it should stay at around 350°F.
5. Meanwhile, put the balsamic vinegar and 1 teaspoon sugar in a small saucepan (on your grill’s side burner if it has one). Bring to a boil over medium heat and cook until the liquid reduces to about 2 tablespoons. Stir in the butter and nutmeg. Remove from the heat.
6. Remove the pears to plates with tongs and a spatula. Drizzle with the balsamic sauce and serve.