PEARS POACHED IN BAY AND BAL­SAMIC WITH SER­RANO HAM

Country Homes & Interiors - - GOOD TIMES, GOOD FOOD -

You can poach the pears a day or so in ad­vance. Keep them in the re­frig­er­a­tor, but al­ways serve at room tem­per­a­ture to en­hance their flavour.

SERVES 4

200g caster su­gar

80ml bal­samic vine­gar

4 bay leaves

4 pears

4 large slices of ser­rano ham

Sea salt and freshly ground black pep­per

2 large hand­fuls of mul­ti­coloured salad herbs, such as rocket, cress, red mus­tard or lamb’s let­tuce 3 tbsp pine nuts, toasted

1 tbsp olive oil

Put 600ml wa­ter in a pan over a medium heat with the su­gar, vine­gar and bay leaves. Bring to boil, then sim­mer un­til the su­gar has dis­solved.

Peel the pears, leav­ing the stalks in­tact.

Trim the bases so that they can stand up­right. Add the pears to the liq­uid and sim­mer un­til they are ten­der, turn­ing oc­ca­sion­ally. The time varies a great deal de­pend­ing on how ripe they are, but it should be 10-25 min­utes. Re­move the pears from the liq­uid and al­low to cool, then wrap each one in a slice of ham.

Sea­son the liq­uid, us­ing only a lit­tle salt be­cause of the ham in this recipe, but be gen­er­ous with the freshly ground black pep­per. Boil the liq­uid un­til it be­comes a thick syrup.

Ar­range the salad leaves on serv­ing plates. Put a pear in the mid­dle of each and scat­ter the pine nuts around the pears. Mix the bal­samic syrup with the oil and driz­zle over the top.

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