Poached Pear Tarts
These gorgeous autumnal tarts are a brilliant way to use up underripe pears. The magic is in the poaching liquor – a mixture of fruity wine, fragrant hedgerow berries, and the gentle spicy warmth of wood avens root.
- 3 large, hard pears
- 200ml fruity red wine
- 125g soft light brown sugar
- Large handful (about 40g) each of blackberries, hawberries and damsons or sloes
- 1 large wood avens root, thoroughly rinsed of soil in several changes of water
- 1 sheet ready-rolled puff pastry, defrosted if frozen
- 10g butter, melted
- Granulated sugar, for sprinkling
- Peel the pears and put them into a medium-sized pan. Add the wine, sugar, berries, wood avens root, and 200ml water.
- Bring to the boil then reduce the heat and simmer gently for about 25 minutes until the pears are tender but not soft, turning them from time to time so that they are evenly coloured by the wine.
- Lift the pears from the wine and let them cool slightly. Cut each one in half from stem to tip, and scoop out the seeds and core. Lay each pear half flat on a board and make a series of cuts from top to bottom, leaving a margin uncut so that the pears can be spread into a fan.
- Preheat the oven to 220˚C. Unroll the pastry on a lightly floured surface and cut out six circles of about 9cm diameter (use a large cookie cutter, or cut around a saucer or jar lid). Transfer these to a baking sheet lined with greasproof paper. Carefully lift one pear half onto each circle of pastry, pressing gently to fan them out. Brush the exposed areas of pastry with melted butter and sprinkle with granulated sugar.
- Bake the pear tarts in the preheated oven for around 20 minutes, until the pastry is golden and crisp, and risen around the edges of the pears.
- Meanwhile, strain the poaching liquor into a jug, then return it to the pan. Bring to the boil and simmer until reduced to a thick, sticky syrup.
- Remove the tarts from the oven brush a little syrup over each pear to glaze. Offer the remaining syrup at the table to pour over the tarts as required.
Recipe by Wild Food UK; development and photos by Otherwise for Wild Food UK