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Goat Cheese Panna Cotta with Mulled Wine Poached Pears: Thanksgiving Day Warm-Up

Posted by Peggy on November 22, 2014

Recipe: Goat Cheese Panna Cotta with Pears and Maple-Bacon Dressing

Ingredients

  • 4 firm-ripe Bosc pears
  • 4 cups fruity red wine*
  • 1 1/2 cups sugar
  • 2 cinnamon sticks
  • 2 vanilla beans
  • 1 1/2 teaspoons cloves
  • Parchment paper to cover pear while poaching
  • 3 cups heavy cream (avoid ultra-pasterurized, if possible)
  • 1 cup goat milk
  • 8 ounces soft goat cheese, room temperature, coarsely chopped
  • 1 teaspoon dry tarragon
  • Two pinches of cayenne
  • 1/2 teaspoon kosher salt
  • 1 tablespoon powdered gelatin, bloomed** in 2 tablespoons warm water
  • 8 (1/2-3/4 cup)ramekins (molds), lightly oiled
  • 1 packed cup of 1/4-inch diced uncooked bacon
  • 1 cup maple syrup
  • Arugula, as needed, stems trimmed, washed and dried
  • Optional garnishes: Finely chopped parsley (for garnishing panna cotta) and raspberries.

Instructions

  1. Peel pears with a vegetable peeler or paring knife and cut them, lengthwise, in half. Use a melon baller or spoon to dig out the core, and a small paring knife to remove the fibrous part of the core that extends to the stem, leaving the stem intact.
  2. Combine the wine, sugar, cinnamon sticks, vanilla beans and cloves in your largest, heavy-bottomed saucepan. Bring the mixture to a low simmer while stirring to dissolve sugar.
  3. Add pears to the saucepan. Cut a piece of parchment paper into a circle that will fit over the pears in the pan. Place the parchment round directly on the surface of the liquid and pears. This will keep the pears submerged in the liquid.
  4. Over low heat, poach pears for 20 to 30 minutes or until a knife is easily inserted into a pear. Turn pears over in the middle of simmer time to insure even poaching. Remove the pears from the heat and allow them to cool to room temperature in their liquid. Chill in the cooking liquid until cold, turning occasionally, at least 8 hours and up to 24.
  5. Meanwhile, in a large bowl, half-fill  an ice bath large enough to house the saucepan in which the panna cotta will simmer. Reserve.
  6. Gently heat the cream and goat milk in  saucepan. When just hot but not boiling, stir in the goat cheese and whisk until the mixture is smooth; stir in tarragon, cayenne and salt. Remove from heat and continue whisking in ice bath; whisking in the bloomed gelatin (see notes below) and continue whisking until completely incorporated.
  7. Pour into oiled molds. Chill in the refrigerator for at least 6 hours and up to 24 hours.
  8. Fry the bacon in a skillet until crisp; deglaze pan with 2 cups of water and the maple syrup and reduce until 1 cup, or so, remains; about 15 minutes. Strain out bacon (reserve for another use), return the syrup to a small saucepan and whisk over high heat for 3-4 minutes, until the syrup thickens. Allow to cool, whisking occasionally to make sure the fat does not separate. (If refrigerated at this point, the syrup will thicken further; bring to room temperature before using.)
  9. Unmold the panna cottas by running a knife along the edges of the ramekins and tapping onto 8 plates garnished with arugula. (If they don't slide out of the mold, place briefly in a small hot water bath and try again.) Slice the pears and arrange around the panna cotta. Drizzle with the bacon syrup, garnish, if desired, and serve.
*A typical, 750mL bottle of wine is 3 cups; add an additional cup of water, if you don't want to open another bottle. That's what I did. A bit less of an intense red color, but lovely. **Blooming gelatin is an important step to ensure a smooth texture. Sprinkle the powdered gelatin into water and stir to dissolve. Let sit for 3 to 5 minutes until congealed, then heat in the microwave about 45 seconds until liquified.
Time to make poached pears and panna cotta (advance prep required): 75 minutes Time to make dressing and finish plates: 40 minutes

Number of servings (yield): 8

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