Pear Barbecue Sauce with Chile and Spice

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Here is a simple and rewarding recipe you can make and use all summer long. The ingredients are simple, but the flavors are both complex and balanced. Guajillo chile is tangy and bright, but never too spicy. Cinnamon and fennel add a nice warm spice flavor which balances perfectly with the pears, and the tomato, vinegar, and dark brown sugar give this recipe a classic flavor base.

Using the pears for body and sweetness makes it possible to cut down on the sugar dramatically, and this barbecue sauce contains fiber, too! Slather this sauce on chicken wings or spare ribs during their last 10 minutes on the grill, or use it as a substitute for store-bought barbecue sauce in a pulled pork or brisket crock pot recipe.

Ingredients
2 dried guajillo chiles
Boiling water
1 tablespoon canola oil
1 medium sweet onion, large dice
¼ teaspoon salt
1 tablespoon fennel seeds
1 ½ teaspoons cinnamon
¼ cup tomato paste
1 cup apple cider vinegar
½ cup packed dark brown sugar
2 ripe USA Pears, such as Red or Green Anjou, large dice

Directions
Toast the chiles in a hot skillet on both sides, pressing down on them with a spatula until they just begin to lightly blister. Transfer the chiles to a medium bowl and pour the boiling water over them. Place a smaller bowl on top of the chiles to weigh them down, filling it with water as well, and set aside to soften.

Heat a large saucepan over medium heat and add the canola oil. Once the oil is hot, add the onion and salt and saute until translucent, about 5 minutes. At this time, add the whole fennel seeds and continue to cook the onion and fennel together for about an additional five minutes, or until the onion is beginning to lightly brown. Next, add the cinnamon and tomato paste and cook, stirring often, until the tomato and cinnamon are beginning to toast on the bottom of the pan and become fragrant, about 3 minutes. Add the vinegar, the brown sugar, and the diced pears and stir to combine. Lastly remove the guajillo chiles from the water and pull off their stems. Tear the chiles open lengthwise and remove all of their seeds, rinsing them under water if necessary. Tear the remaining chile flesh and skin into about 2 inch pieces and add it to the sauce mixture. Stir and cover the sauce and bring it to a simmer. Once it simmers, reduce the temperature to low and cook for 20 -30 minutes, or until the sauce has thickened and the pears are very soft.

Once cooked, uncover the sauce and allow it to cool for 20-30 minutes before pureeing. Puree the sauce in a blender, scraping down the sides as necessary, until very smooth and uniform. Divide the sauce between three half-pint jars or other glass containers. Store in the refrigerator for up to 4 weeks or in the freezer for several months.

prep time: 25 minutes plus cooking
yield: about 2 ½ cups sauce

Korean Barbecue Beef

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Pear juice adds sweetness and helps to tenderize the beef in this bulgogi dish that is traditionally cooked over a grill. You can serve it with rice, in a lettuce wrap or try it fusion style in a taco or burrito.

Ingredients              
1 pound lean stir-fry beef, such as flank steak or sirloin cut across the grain, very thinly sliced
1 ripe Bartlett USA Pear, peeled and cored
2 cloves minced garlic
1 teaspoon minced ginger
2 chopped green onions
3 tablespoons soy sauce or tamari
1 teaspoon brown sugar
2 teaspoons toasted sesame oil
Pinch freshly ground black pepper
Garnish
2 teaspoons toasted sesame seeds
2 sliced green onions

Directions 
Grate the pear in a large bowl or if it’s soft enough, mash it. Add the garlic, ginger, green onions, soy sauce, brown sugar, toasted sesame oil, and black pepper. Stir to combine and add the beef, coating it completely. Cover the bowl and let marinate in the refrigerator for 1 to 2 hours. Drain the beef from the marinade using a strainer or colander.

Heat a large no-stick or cast iron skillet or griddle over medium-high heat until it is hot. Add enough beef to cover in one layer and stir fry, until the meat is completely cooked through, about 3 minutes; transfer to a plate. Repeat with the remaining beef.

Garnish with sesame seeds and green onions before serving.

prep time: About 10 minutes
cooking time: 6 minutes
yield: Serves 4

Recipe developed by Amy Sherman.

Bacon & Blue Cheese Sliders with Pear Ketchup

This delicious combination is perfect for Dad’s big day! This Sunday, let your dad relax and impress him with these savory sliders. The umami from the bacon and blue cheese blends perfectly with the tangy, inventive pear ketchup. This recipe was developed by Chef John Therres of Renaissance M Street Hotel, Washington, D.C.

Ingredients

Pear Ketchup

2 Anjou USA Pears

2 teaspoons clarified butter or vegetable oil

¼ cup diced sweet onion, like Walla Walla or Vidalia

1 cup clear apple juice or cider

2 to 4 tablespoons apple cider vinegar

⅛ teaspoon white pepper

Kosher salt to taste

Sliders

12 slices thick-cut bacon, well-chilled or frozen

3 tablespoons crumbled blue cheese

4 small soft rolls, preferably brioche

Directions

To make the pear ketchup, peel and core the pears and cut them into large cubes. Warm the clarified butter or oil in a sauté pan over medium heat. Add the onions and cook until they become translucent. Add the pears and stir to coat with the butter or oil. Add the apple cider and cook over low heat until the liquid is almost completely absorbed. Set aside to cool.

Puree the mixture until completely smooth, and then add 2 tablespoons of vinegar and taste. The ketchup should be tangy, to help balance the fattiness of the bacon and cheese. Add the white pepper and salt to taste.
Preheat the oven to 350 degrees.

To make the sliders, use a food processor to chop the bacon. Keep the slices together and cut the bacon slab into several large chunks. Refrigerate or freeze the chunks until very firm. This will help keep the grind uniform, like ground beef, not mushy. Crumble the blue cheese into the ground bacon and form the mixture into eight 2-inch patties.

Place the patties on a baking sheet or cast iron skillet and cook for 10 minutes. Turn the burgers over and cook another 10 to 15 minutes or until the internal temperature is 170 degrees.

To serve, split the roll, toast if desired and spread one side with the ketchup.

yield: Makes eight sliders