In order to keep the French food theme going, here is another one of my go-to French dishes. One of my favorite chefs, Charlie Trotter, came up with the concept of "faux gras" using ripe pears in place of goose liver for the desired effect. He uses seared pears in a dish along with corn cakes and a tropical fruit reduction in his book Vegetables. It's so smart.
And okay, I admit it -- I've actually never tasted foie gras, so I'm not sure how close this is to the taste and texture of the real thing, but I will tell you that it really is delicious. It's a perfect appetizer served with crostini; it's also great on top of some lightly dressed arugula.
Faux Gras + Blue Cheese & Chives
2 ripe pears
applewood smoked salt
1 tablespoon of butter
Humboldt Fog cheese (or any other light-tasting bleu cheese)
Slice pears into thirds from top to bottom leaving two good slices with the skin on and a core slice for each pear. Using a sharp knife, score the pear in a diamond shape. (You want you knife to pierce the flesh, but not to pierce the pear skin.)
Lightly sprinkle each scored pear half with champagne vinegar -- just a few drops will do. Next, add a pinch of smoked salt and a turn of black pepper to the cut-side of each pear. Heat a medium-sized pan over medium-high heat. Once the pan is heated through, add the butter. Once the butter has melted, place pears in the pan cut-side-down, and allow them to cook for three to four minutes. (You want the pears to caramelize nicely.) Once you have achieved some good color on the cut-side, flip pears over and heat them through on the other side. Remove pears from pan.
To serve, place pears on a plate and garnish each pear half with about 1/4 ounce of crumbled bleu cheese and chopped chives. Serve with crostini or soft french bread.