I received a complimentary Private Cooking Class from The Chef & The Dish. The opinions are mine alone
Poached Pears with Parmigiano Reggiano and Ricotta is a simple, yet elegant dessert. The warm spiced poaching liquid infuses incredible flavor into Bosc pears. The filling of Parmigiano Reggiano and fresh Ricotta are the perfect finishing touch
A few weeks ago I took part in The Chef & The Dish, a private Skype cooking class. The Chef & The Dish partners with acclaimed Chefs from around the world, who have years of training, and experience at some of the top restaurants in the world. The Chefs are experts in their local cuisine, and have a passion for sharing their knowledge with you.
The Chef & The Dish is such a fun and unique experience! It’s great for date night, Sunday Funday, or even a group dinner party. You select the cuisine, and participate in a 20-minute Kitchen Prep Session with a staff member a few days before the class. The class itself is about 2 hours long, and you prepare a 3-course meal. Your Chef cooks right along with you, giving you tips and pointers along the way.
I chose the Parmigiano Class, hosted by Chef Paola Martinenghi, and invited April & Ronni to eat and help me in the kitchen. Today I’m sharing the dessert course, Poached Pears with Parmigiano Reggiano and Ricotta.
So the funny thing is, I’m really not a big fan of pears. I never buy them, and only ever eat them when they’re part of a dish at a restaurant. Poached Pears with Parmigiano Reggiano and Ricotta completely changed my tune. The warm spiced poaching liquid infuses the pears with incredible flavor, and the combination of ricotta, lemon and fresh Parmigiano Reggiano is second to none.
INGREDIENTS FOR POACHED PEARS WITH PARMIGIANO REGGIANO & RICOTTA
- Bosch pears
- Cinnamon Sticks
- Lemon (zest and juice)
- Whole Cloves
- Granulated Sugar
- Fresh Thyme
- Whole Milk Ricotta
- Parmigiano Reggiano
- Raw Honey
- Raw Walnuts
Poached Pears with Parmigiano Reggiano and Ricotta does take about 45 minutes total, but about half is resting time, and the result is well worth the wait. Besides, the process itself is easy.
KEYS TO THE PERFECT POACHED PEARS WITH PARMIGIANO REGGIANO & RICOTTA
- Make the filling first, and put it into the fridge to rest, so the flavors meld together
- Fresh lemon is crucial for both the filling and the poaching liquid. Lemons are inexpensive, and plentiful year-round, so there’s no excuse not to use them
- Use pears that give just a little when lightly squeezed
- Poach the pears until they are soft to the touch
- Once the pears are done, remove them from the skillet and put them into the fridge for about 15 minutes. Don’t add the filling to hot pears, or the filling will melt
PARMIGIANO REGGIANO VS. ALL THE REST
One of the best parts of The Chef & The Dish is the education. Chef Paola spent about 20 minutes telling us about her experience and qualifications, plus where she grew up and currently lives in Italy. We also learned about Parmigiano Reggiano, and what makes it authentic:
- comes from only one region of Italy
- takes about one month to get from milk to cheese wheel, all done by hand
- must be approved by the Parmigiano-Reggiano Cheese Consortium
- wheel must age one year before it can even be tested for quality; Chef Paola prefers Parmigiano Reggiano that has aged 2 years
- wheels that don’t pass the first test have the stencil removed, and it’s sold as “white cheese”
I know a lot of people swear by the green can, or even chunks of regular Parmesan cheese. And if you’ve got kids who eat it all the time, then I understand that. But do yourself a favor and splurge on a chunk of Parmigiano Reggiano. It is so worth it, and it lasts a long time wrapped well and stored in the fridge. How do you know you’re getting the real thing? Make sure you see the rind,which has the Parmigiano Reggiano stencil. Store-packaged Parmigiano Reggiano will also have a seal on the packaging that indicates it is authentic.
Poached Pears with Parmigiano Reggiano and Ricotta are simple enough for a family dinner, and elegant enough for date night or a dinner party. You can make the filling 1-2 days ahead, and even make the pears a few hours ahead. I recommend taking the pears out of the fridge about 15 minutes before filling, so they return to room temperature.
SHOP THIS RECIPE
- Zest 3/4 of lemon, being careful not to zest too much in any one spot. If you hit the white, you've gone too far and the zest will be bitter. Use a vegetable peeler to cut the rest of the peel into strips
- In a medium bowl, add Parmigiano Reggiano, ricotta, lemon zest, and honey. Mix well, place in Ziploc bag, and put into fridge to rest
- Slice pears in half lengthwise. Using a small spoon, scoop out seeds. I scoop a small circle around seeds, to create a small well for the filling later. Be careful not to scoop too far down
- In a large skillet, lay pear halves face down. Add cloves, lemon peel strips, sugar, cinnamon, and thyme. Add enough water to go about halfway up pears
- Bring liquid to a boil, reduce to a simmer, and poach until the water reduces and thickens into a syrup. The pears will take anywhere from 5-15 minutes to poach, depending on the size of the pears and how ripe they are. The smaller and more ripe, the faster they will poach
- When finished, remove the pears, and lay face up on a plate. Spoon the syrup onto the pears, and place in the fridge for 15 minutes to cool.
- Remove bag with filling from fridge. Using scissors, cut a small hole in one bottom corner of the bag
- Remove pears from fridge. Pipe filling into each pear. Finish with crushed walnuts, a little lemon zest, a little Parmigiano Reggiano, and a drizzle of honey