Poached Pear Terrine with Black Nuts and Orange Ragoût
A lovely mixture of spiced pears, raisins, candied orange zest, and chopped black nuts fills the pastry for this terrine. Slices of the terrine are served with orange ragoût, Austrian black nuts, and paper-thin deep-fried pear slices. The chef uses a triangular metal terrine; it may be made in a rectangular terrine as well.
Austrian black nuts—Schwarze Nüsse—are walnuts harvested while still green, fermented, and preserved. The Austrian website
offers jars of Austrian black nuts for sale. Contact them first on e-mail—you can write in English—to see if they’re currently shipping to the U.S.: firstname.lastname@example.org. The closest U.S. nut is the black walnut, but it is harvested ripe and not fermented. You may substitute plain chopped black walnuts for the Austrian black nuts. For another option, www.gourmetemporium.net sells a fig and walnut confit. Still another option, given below, is to preserve black walnuts in honey and use these for this recipe. Using any of these options, plain black walnuts, the fig and walnut confit, or honeyed walnuts, the flavor will not be authentic, but it will still be delicious.
- Confectioner’s Sugar - 2/3 cup
- Unsalted Butter - 1 cup + 1 tablespoon
- All-Purpose Flour - 2-2/3 cups
- Egg Yolk - 1
- Vanilla - 1 teaspoon
- Lemon Juice - 1 teaspoon
- Pears - 4, peeled, halved, and cored
- Dry white wine - 1 cup
- Sugar - 3 tablespoons
- Cinnamon Stick - 1
- Zest of 1/2 orange
- Vanilla bean - 1, split
- Raisins - 1/2 cup
- Candied orange zest - 1/4 cup
- Unflavored Gelatin Powder - 1-1/2 packets
- Cool Water - 1/4 cup
- Black Nuts - 1-1/2 , drained, toasted, and finely chopped
- Orange Sauce
- Oranges - 4
- Sugar - ½ cup
- Black nuts - 32, drained, or black walnut halves; reserve juice, confit, or honey
- Deep-fried Pear slices - 32, paper-thin, (directions below)
- Reserved black nut or walnut juice
- Deep-fried Pear Slices
- Pears - 4, stemmed
- All-purpose flour for dusting
- Canola oil or other high-temperature vegetable oil for deep frying
To make the pastry: Combine the ingredients with your hands, then knead into a soft dough. Wrap in plastic wrap and chill in the refrigerator for 30 minutes.
Preheat the oven to 350 F. Dust a work surface with flour and roll out the dough into a large rectangle, slightly less than 1/8-inch thick. Cut off one strip large enough to form a top for the terrine. Place this strip on a baking sheet lined with parchment paper. Lay another sheet of parchment paper over this strip, and top with an inverted sheet pan; this arrangement keeps the top pastry flat. Roll the remaining pastry up around the rolling pin, place over a terrine pan, and unroll. Gently press the pastry into the pan, crimping at the top. Moisten the top edge of the terrine with a little water on your finger and seal the pastry to the edge. Add dried beans or pie weights to hold the pastry down. Place the terrine on a baking sheet. Bake the terrine and top 10 minutes, until the pastry is slightly golden; remove and let cool.
To make the filling: Combine the pears, wine, sugar, cinnamon, and orange zest in a large saucepan. Scrape the vanilla bean seeds into the mixture, then add the vanilla bean pods. Bring to a boil over medium heat. Reduce heat to simmer and cook until the pears are soft, 5 to 7 minutes. Remove the pears and set aside. Dissolve the gelatin in the cold water, then stir it into the poaching liquid and stir until no trace of graininess remains. Cut the pears in thin slices. Put one third of the pears in a bowl and pour the liquid over them. Puree until smooth, then fold in the remaining pear slices, raisins, and candied orange zest. Pour one third of the pear mixture into the lined terrine and sprinkle with a layer of nuts (if using honeyed walnuts, drain off the honey). Gently ladle another third of the pear mixture over the nuts, then top with a second layer of nuts. Ladle the remaining pear mixture into the terrine. Put the top on the terrine. Cover with plastic wrap and chill until set, at least 3 to 4 hours.
To prepare the ragout and nuts: Peel the oranges and cut out the segments. Clean off the white membrane. In a heavy saucepan over medium heat, melt the sugar. Add the orange segments. Cook 1 to 2 minutes, turning the segments so that they are completely glazed with the sugar. Remove from heat and add the walnut halves, stirring to coat in the syrup.
To serve: Unmold the terrine. Using a serrated knife, slice the terrine into 12 slices. Present two pieces on one side of each dessert plate. For each plate, pick six walnut halves out of the ragout and line up between the terrine slices and the nearest edge of the plate, On the other side of each plate, overlap six deep-fried pear slices. Put a mound of orange ragout in the center of each plate. Drizzle the walnuts with a little reserved walnut juice.
Deep-fried Pear Slices
Fruit (and vegetables) can be cut in paper-thin slices and strips and fried for an attractive garnish. Quantities vary depending on what you are doing with the garnish and how many servings you need. For the terrine presention, you will need 32 paper-thin pear slices.
Cut the pears in very thin vertical slices on a mandoline or V-slicer, cutting through the seeds and core as well as the flesh. In a deep fryer or deep heavy saucepan, heat the oil to 350 F to 360 F, or until a breadcrumb immediately sizzles and comes to the top when dropped in. Dust the pear slices lightly with flour, shaking off all but the thinnest coating. Fry a handful at a time for 15 to 20 seconds, until they have floated to the surface and crisped but not deeply browned. Do not crowd the pan; let the oil return to temperature between batches Remove with a slotted spoon and drain on paper towels. Repeat until all pieces have been fried.
Special equipment: a large Mason jar
Preheat the oven to 325F. Fill the Mason jar with black walnut halves. Pour the walnuts onto a baking sheet and roast until fragrant and beginning to crisp, shaking the baking sheet occasionally. Remove from oven and let cool completely.
Put the nuts back in the Mason jar and add enough honey to cover. Cover the jar with plastic wrap secured with an elastic band to the top of the jar. The nut mixture will keep indefinitely in the pantry.