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Pears recipes festive seasonal salad Christine McFadden
 
 
 
 
 
 

Christine's blog

This is the place to enjoy Christine's food-related musings – from seasonal food and food producers to cooking tools, food markets and gastro-travel. You'll also find some must-try recipes and invaluable tips and techniques.

Partridges and Pears

Now that December is underway I’m finally starting to feel festive and focus on menus. There is plenty of fresh produce to enjoy – I’m thinking particularly of partridges and pears, both of which are in season now. Should your true love present you with these on the first day of Christmas, here’s the low-down on what to do with them – before you move on to three French hens, that is.

Partridges are just the job if you’re not too sure about daunting gamey flavours. They’re milder than pheasant and relatively small – a single bird will serve one. Cooking is straightforward: frying, grilling or roasting for young birds, a moist slow braise for older ones. As the carol suggests, partridges and pears make a pleasing culinary partnership, as in my recipe for Warm Salad of Partridge, Pears and Walnuts.

Though they’re a welcome treat, pears have never quite had the mass appeal of apples. For a start, they must be picked before they’re ripe. This means they arrive in the shops after a long spell in cold storage, which does nothing for the flavour. Pears may also have disappointingly rock-hard flesh or mushy cores. Good hunting grounds are farm shops and proper greengrocers – they’re more likely to stock local varieties that haven’t undergone the rigours of cold storage. And regardless of covid-related restrictions, they’re open and need your support.

A perfect pear is a uniquely pleasurable fruit. The flavour is subtle, almost fleeting, but at the same time uniquely pear-like. The texture is meltingly soft, either smooth or grainy, but certainly not crisp. A restrained shout-out from the 1920s comes from the late Edward Bunyard, nurseryman and fruit enthusiast. In his poetic Anatomy of Dessert he comments: “a pear should have such a texture as leads to silent consumption”. So no slurping please.

 

© Christine McFadden, December 2020

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