Ingredients: Per 4 servings
- 1 and ¼ cup of fresh cream
- 7 oz Parmigiano Reggiano cheese
- 1 lb Williams pears
- 2 oz dry red wine
- 1 tablespoon sugar
- 1 tablespoon honey
- ½ oz gelatin sheets
In a saucepan, bring the cream to a boil.
Soften the gelatin in cold water and then add to the cream. Add the grated Parmigiano and mix well with a whisk.
Allow it to cool in the refrigerator for at least 2 hours.
Peel and dice the pears into ½ inch cubes. Sauté the pears with the sugar and honey in a medium sautepan over a medium flame.
Slowly add the red wine and reduce to a fairly dense syrup.
Then, transfer the mousse to a pastry bag with a flat tip. Form a ring with the mousse on each plate and place 2 tbsp of caramelized pears on top.
Drizzle with the reduced sauce.
Garnish with chives and a Parmigiano Reggiano crisp.
You may also serve this dish with toasted, sliced bread.
To make the Parmigiano Reggiano crisp: spread a tbsp of grated Parmigiano Reggiano on a sheet of parchment paper, forming a very thin circle. Cook in the microwave for 20 seconds.
Then shape the crisp as you wish while it is still hot, then let cool and harden.
Pears and cheese are commonly used together in Italian recipes and their pairing dates back to the 18th century. They were often served at the end of the meal: in fact, doctors used to suggest serving astringent foods like pears and cheese to finish a meal. Thanks to the writing of Francesco Petrarca, they have become symbols of dinner’s end:
“addio: l’è sera,
or su vengan le pera,
il cascio e ‘l vin di Creti”
(goodbye: it is late, now it is time so serve the pears, cheese and red wine from Crete)
However this pairing of cheese with pears represents more simple medical advice: the two ingredients signify the meeting point between the peasant and noble cultures.
On one hand, cheese, considered the food of Polyphemus, was a symbol of the peasants and humble people, for it was considered an important source of sustenance. On the other, pears were thought of as an expensive food, difficult to store and not very filling. They were a real luxury that only the rich could afford.
In fact, cheese was introduced to the tables of the noble during times when meat was not supposed to be served due to Christian beliefs, as something to serve with the precious pear. It is an almost perfect union of Italian history, culinary and otherwise.
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