Impressive poached pear in pastry with fig sauce

By Jim Bailey

Here’s a great break from tradition, yet traditional because of the use of figs. Many of us have only gotten close to figs in one way, and that is eating Fig Newtons. Many may think that’s how figs taste. In essence, yes. But, in reality, figs are so much more fragrant and flavorful, plus cost is never a factor. The price is so reasonable, more of us should be using these fruits during the holidays.

Poire Tourmente

Poire Tourmente is translated to “pears in turmoil” because of the many tastes this dessert contains. Does it want to be sweet? Salty? Crunchy? Soft? It is a combination of all the above. In a nutshell, it is a classic poached pear recipe with a holiday tweak: puff pastry wrapped poached pear, sitting on a sauce of sweet and sour fig sauce. Most likely you won’t be making this for a crowd, but how about just for you and your loved one? And by the way, unlike other poached pear recipes, this one is sans alcohol. Drink that on the side.

Poire Tourmente

3 cups cranberry juice
1/4 cup sugar
1/2 teaspoon grated lime zest
Juice from one lime
1/4 teaspoon ground cinnamon (or throw in a broken cinnamon stick)
2 ripe pears
1 sheet (roughly 9 x 6-inches) puff pastry dough

In a saucepan, combine cranberry juice, sugar, lime juice, lime zest and cinnamon. Bring to a boil over medium-high heat and add the pears, on their side. Poach pears until just barely knife-tender, turning as needed. Typically they need 5 to 10 minutes per side, depending on their ripeness. Be very careful not to overcook them for they turn to mush. Remove from poaching liquid and set on a plate in the refrigerator until cool to the touch, about 30 minutes.

In the meantime, remove a sheet of puff pastry dough from the freezer and lay it out on a baking sheet or cutting board to thaw. Take a large knife or pizza cutter and cut 12 to 14 long strips 8 inches long by 1/2 inch wide.

When the pears are cool, preheat oven to 375-degrees F. Wrap the puff pastry strips around the pear, starting from the bottom. They will stick well on their own but you may have to moisten the ends so they will stick to each other. Stand pears up on an ungreased baking sheet or pan and bake the pears for 15 to 20 minutes, until the puff pastry is golden brown. While the pear pastry bakes, create the sauce.

Sweet and Sour Fig Sauce

Remainder of poaching liquid
1/4 c. apple cider vinegar
10 fresh figs or 20 small ones (they are pretty large), chopped

Add enough cranberry juice to the poaching liquid to bring it to 1 cup if needed, or pour out to make 1 cup. Strain into a saucepan and add vinegar and figs. Bring to a boil over high heat, reduce to low and simmer until thick and syrupy, 6 to 12 minutes, depending how much poaching liquid remains.

Divide the fig sauce among two serving dishes and place a baked pear on each. Serve warm.

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Filed Under: Community and Arts LifeThe Yankee Chef

About the Author: Jim Bailey is a third generation Yankee Chef, New England food historian and newspaper columnist. His first cookbook, simply titled The Yankee Chef, has been published. He welcomes all feedback, questions or comments at

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