The amazing adventures of Pear and Gorgonzola
Twenty centimetres of snow!
Aside from running to a far away atoll with sandy beaches (and a steady supply of Italian food and ice cream), I can think of only one appropriate gastronomic response: risotto, and in large, belly warming quantities.
Enter our protagonists: Pear, a ruddy faced, versatile team player, who brings flavour to any occasion. His partner in crime? Gorgonzola, a smooth talking Italian who just oozes charm, but whose social circle is limited to those who have learned to tolerate -- nay, adore -- his odour "problem."
Alright, alright, I'm not buying it either. Nonetheless, my wife and I make a caramelized pear and Gorgonzola risotto that would blow your mind (which is why you should find the recipe below, print it, and put it somewhere you'll never lose it. That, or bookmark this page.). Go ahead, I'll wait....
"So," you're probably wondering, "what's so damn good about this risotto?" Well, there's nothing quite like the taste of a sweet, caramelized pear when it's enjoyed with the vaguest hint of blue cheese and the rich creaminess of arborio rice. That hint of sweet, balanced by a tinge of rot (you know you love it), and all that fruity, creamy, cheesy goodness make this risotto the perfect comfort food. If you really want to make this dish a one way trip to Flavoland, use torta di mascarpone (an Italian cheese composed of alternating layers of Gorgonzola and mascarpone).
There are a couple of keys to this dish: first, use good cheese; second, be sure to caramelize the pears (remember the second rule of risotto club: goldenness = tastiness). Bet you're dying to know the first rule of risotto club, aren't you?
Without further ado, I present you heaven on a cold winter's night:
Caramelized Pear and Gorgonzola Risotto
3 firm Bosc pears (may substitute Bartlett or any other pear suitable for cooking)
175 grams Gorgonzola or torta di mascarpone, cut into chunks
375 grams arborio or other suitable risotto rice
1 cooking onion, diced
1 L chicken stock (may substitute vegetable, if you'd like a vegetarian dish)
200 ml white wine, if desired
2 tbsp unsalted butter
1 tbsp extra virgin olive oil (how did those imperial measurements sneak into my metric recipe?)
pinch of sugar
Peel the pears, and cut them lengthwise into quarters. Remove the core from each quarter, then cut in half width-wise. Cut the smaller (top) piece in half lengthwise, and cut the larger (bottom) piece in quarters lengthwise. If you've done it properly, each pear should yield 24 wedges.
Preheat chicken stock to a bare simmer.
In a large saucepan or dutch oven over medium heat, heat olive oil, add onions, and cook until translucent. Add the rice, and cook until white dots appear in the centre of each grain.
If using wine, add it at this point, stirring. When it is reduced, add just enough hot chicken stock to cover the rice, and stir very frequently. The liquid should barely simmer throughout this process. Repeat this step until the rice is al dente, approximately eighteen to twenty minutes. If the stock runs out before the rice is cooked, substitute water.
Meanwhile, heat a 12-inch saute pan over medium high heat. When it is very hot, add the butter, the pears, and the sugar. Don't fidget with the pears. Turn them every three or four minutes until they are nicely caramelized on both sides.
When the rice is cooked, add the blue cheese, salt, and pepper, and stir until the cheese is completely incorporated into the risotto.
Serve in bowls with additional salt and pepper.
Serves two with leftovers as a main course, four as an appetizer.
Want to see a different take on this dish? Click here.