This recipe frees you from the guesswork of shopping for ripe pears. It calls for firm, slightly underripe ones, which hold up well on the grill.
Serve as a side dish or dessert.
You'll need to soak 1 cup of applewood chips in water for an hour.
Make Ahead: The basil oil needs to sit at a cool room temperature for at least 2 days and up to 5 days. Leftover oil can be refrigerated for up to 3 weeks. It can be used in marinades and salad dressings. The pears need to marinate for 5 or 10 minutes before they are grilled. The sour cream can be prepared and refrigerated for several hours or up to a day in advance.
- For the basil oil
- 1/2 cup extra-virgin olive oil
- 1 stem freshly cut basil, preferably young and tender
- For the pears
- 4 firm Bosc or Bartlett pears
- 1 thumb-size knob fresh ginger root, peeled and grated with a Microplane or very finely minced
- Juice of 1 lemon
- 1 tablespoon extra-virgin olive oil
- Kosher salt
- For the basil sour cream
- 1/2 cup sour cream
For the basil oil: Pour the oil into a container with a tight-fitting lid. Submerge the basil in the oil. Seal and let sit at a cool room temperature for at least 2 days and up to 5 days.
For the pears: Prepare the grill for direct heat. If using a gas grill, preheat to low (300 degrees). If using a charcoal grill, light the charcoal or wood briquettes; when the briquettes are ready, distribute them under the cooking area for direct heat. You should be able to hold your hand about 6 inches above the coals for about 6 seconds. Drain the applewood chips and place them in the coals. Have ready a spray water bottle for taming any flames.
Cut the pears into quarters and place them in a mixing bowl, discarding the cores. Add the ginger, lemon juice, oil and a pinch of salt. Toss to coat and let sit for 5 to 10 minutes.
Use tongs to place the pears directly over the heat, with a cut side down. Reserve any marinade left in the bowl. Cook uncovered until the pears begin to char and the flesh softens, about 5 minutes. At this point, if the pears need more time to soften, move them to the edges of the grill, then close the grill lid and cook for 5 minutes.
Meanwhile, make the basil sour cream: Combine the sour cream, 2 tablespoons of the basil oil and all of the marinade from the pears in a medium bowl. Season with a pinch of salt, and whisk to combine.
Serve the pears either hot or at room temperature, with some of the cream on top of each piece.
Adapted from "Where There's Smoke: Simple, Sustainable, Delicious Grilling," by Barton Seaver (Sterling Epicure, 2013).
Tested by Andy Sikkenga.
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