A delicious, easy recipe for a downright classy dessert.
Step 1: Trim Pears
Select some nice, firm, just-ripe Bosc pears.
While other pears might do, the Bosc will hold up best to poaching, and still have some nice solidity after baking.
Peel and halve the pears, then use a paring knife to remove the seeds, stem, and any other damaged or woody bits you'd rather not eat.
Step 2: Prepare Poaching Liquid
Add twelve bags of your favorite green and/or herbal tea to six cups of water, and bring to a boil.
Let your tea steep according to the package directions, then squeeze and remove the bags. It's best not to leave green tea bags in too long, as they can impart a bitter flavor; herbal teas can usually be left as long as you like.
Add a cup of sugar, shavings of orange zest (just use a peeler on the outside of your favorite citrus), a couple of slices of ginger, and a sprinkle of whole spices. I added peppercorns, cinnamon, and whole cloves, but star anise, vanilla beans, and allspice are also great ideas.
Step 3: Poach Pears
Add the pears to the poaching liquid, and cook over low heat until the pears are just cooked through, and have taken on the color and flavor of the tea.
This should take 45 minutes to an hour, depending on the size of pears and the heat you use. Turn the pot off, and let the pears cool in the poaching liquid. They'll absorb even more tasty flavors.
You can store them this way overnight in the refrigerator, and put the pie together the next day.
Optional: cut a piece of parchment or waxed paper to cover the surface of the pot. This will keep your pears submerged, and make sure all areas are properly infused with the tea mixture. This is a hold-over from poaching pears for direct presentation, intended to prevent uneven coloring and flavor uptake. In this case, just stirring periodically to relocate the pears should be sufficient.
Step 4: Chop and Add to Pie Shell
Grab your deep-dish pie pan, pre-lined with tasty homemade pie crust.
Snag the pears from the poaching liquid, and chop them into more reasonably-sized pieces. I cut each piece in half or thirds, but you may like more bite-sized chunks.
Remove the ginger and orange zest, mince, and sprinkle them over the pears.
Step 5: Reduce Poaching Liquid
Cook the poaching liquid down until you've got less than a cup of concentrated, flavorful syrupy goodness. (As you'll remember, we started with 6 cups- this is a significant reduction.)
Add a bit of vanilla (say, 1/3teaspoon) for flavor, whisk in a teaspoon of cornstarch, and pour about 1/2 cup of this mixture over the pear pie.
Save the rest for other pies, or use as a fantastic syrup for pancakes and waffles.
Step 6: Top, Bake, and Serve
Cover your pie with another layer of pie crust, crimp the edges, and cut a couple of steam vents.
Bake at 350 until cooked through and golden-brown on top, around 45 minutes. The insides will bubble up to let you know they're ready.
Brushing the top with milk or egg white near the end of the cook time will make it brown more nicely.
This pie serves MUCH more easily when cool, and the flavors are more subtle and interesting. Thus, if you can make the pie a day ahead of serving you should; more importantly, it means that this pie will taste even better for breakfast!