Put into 450′-500′ oven after pouring plenty of cider (since you’re out of red wine) over-top of pears in a baking dish. Add a cinnamon stick, and roast 1-1 1/4 hours, basting four times. Add more liquid if it looks like it is going to dry out. Serve with the thickened cider ladled over each pear.
Pears in Red Wine
two of my all time kitchen heroes and one of the first dishes I learned to make in nyc:
“Do it four times, and avoid pouring the liquid over the stems each time,” Artemio tells me in staccato Spanish once she is gone.
“Just on the sides…” as he smoothly drizzles thin ribbons of red wine over just the sides of a pear or two where they sit, piled in, buried by, white sugar.
I know Jody would never subscribe to an exercise that contrived. I’ve only been working for her a week but I’m catching on fast. Her ‘recipe’ for the roasted pears would be sort of like an athelete’s recipe for winning. Step one, have talent, step two, be relentless, step three, don’t let up. For the pears, step one: dump a bottle of red wine or so over a dozen clean pears, step two: dump a bunch of sugar over that and add a cinnamon stick, and three: burn burn burn them in a hot oven til they smell so crazy you’ve got to get them into the dining room and onto people’s plates. Sensationally caramelized, roasted pears.
Still, I follow Artemio’s lead. I think he should know what he’s talking about.
Otherwise he generally stays quiet.
Then again, there are those times when (out of mischeviosness, wisdom, or love) he knows something and stays quiet anyway, despite whatever he knows. Artemio preps Jody’s food. Everybody knows, that he knows, absolutely all that there is to know, and possibly everything that’s going on in the kitchen. He’s the prep guy in the mets cap in the basement at Giorgione, and then again at Gusto when Jody moves there. My career moves involve following Jody too. There’s plenty of us. She hires at will or whim, amused by how we wash up at her shores. She abandons, fires, re-hires us, all from the same pool.
Jody has told me, pointing her dead serious finger at me, “make sure the syrup thickens as they cook, but add more wine if you need to so all that syrup and juice doesn’t burn off entirely. And don’t let it get bitter. Once they’re out of the oven just let ‘em be at room temperature. Put ‘em on there in a pile.” She’d nodded toward a colossal empty oval platter, pointing with her chin.
When she came back she saw me basting the pears, three quarters of the way through their cooking.
“Hey!” Pointing two fingers at me now, “those aren’t done. Why are those out of the oven?” She’s jabbing at one of the pears with her knuckle.
“It’s how Artemio does it,” I told her, aiming for exoneration, immunity, afraid of her serious jabbing, her disgust.
Artemio pretended he didn’t hear this. Looked as if I’d spilled fish guts on his shoes. Later on I learned not to respond by naming others in a direct-inquiry such as this. It wasn’t quite professional. Or macho. But I’m an essentially truthful person, tending toward honest simple explanations ever more so in situations where I think I’m about to get ass kicked, or fired, for not following stupid-proof instructions. I know just enough to know I should only have to be told something once. Later on I stopped being so afraid of Jody’s pointing and jabbing at food with her knuckle. It’s almost how she tastes. First she glances, then she pushes with a knuckle. If you don’t want her to poke you have to hand her a fork when you show her what you’ve been doing.
“Oh, ok, fine,” she’d said, putting the finger away. “He runs this place.”
She put on her coat and walked out of the restaurant then, and I still sometimes wonder, uselessly, which is the nature of remembering conversations, how serious she was.