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Essence of an Enticing Pear Pie

Recipe By: Lois Spruytte
Year Submitted: 2024
Winner Third Place
Sponsor: USA Pears


363g AP flour, 1tsp kosher salt, 1/4 tsp cardamom, 1 tsp granulated sugar, 1 TB grated orange zest, 112g ice cold leaf lard cut into small pieces,   112g unsalted butter cut into small pieces,  1/4 cup mixture of ice cold vodka and ice cold water.
450g granulated sugar divided, 10 sprigs of fresh rosemary divided,   2-1/2 cups dry red wine such as Merlot or Cabernet Sauvignon -divided, 4 TB divided unsalted butter, 37g cornstarch, 1/2 tsp cardamom, 3-1/2 pounds of mixed pears reserve 2 pears for garnish, peel and slice remaining thin, 1/2 cup of fresh or frozen cranberries, 1 Tahitian Vanilla bean, split and scraped. 1/4 cup fresh squeezed lemon juice, 3/4 cup water divided
Thin slices of mixed pears


Crust:  Place flour, salt, cardamom, sugar and orange zest in work bowl of a food processor.  Pulse together 5 times to incorporate.  Add it the frozen pieces of leaf lard and butter.  Pulse quickly 8-10 times.  Slowly drizzle in the water/vodka mix while pulsing quickly.  Mixture should look somewhat shaggy and hold together when pinched.  If too dry, add vodka a little at a time until it holds together.  Turn out into a large mixing bowl and divide in half.  Make 2 disks and wrap in plastic.  Chill for 30 minutes.  Roll out 1 disk of dough and place into deep dish pie plate, chill.  Roll out top crust and place on parchment lined pan and chill until ready.
Filling:   Place sugar, 2 cups of Merlot and 4 rosemary sprigs in a saucepan.  Place on stove and bring to a boil.   Turn heat to medium and let reduce by half.  12-15 minutes.  Place a large mesh strainer over a bowl and strain the merlot.  Discard the rosemary.  Whisk in 2 TB of butter and set aside.  Using the same saucepan add remaining merlot and whisk in the cornstarch over medium heat.  Whisk constantly as it will thinken in 20-30 seconds.  Slowly whisk in the reserved merlot/butter syrup and mix until smooth.  Take off heat and whisk in vanilla bean caviar.  Place a large skillet on medium heat.  Add in the peeled and sliced pears and remaining butter.  Cook 6-8 minutes then add in the cranberries* along with the merlot reduction.  Cook and stir for 8-12 minutes.  Add filling to prepared crust and then place top crust on the pie.  Flute the edges and cut in steam vents in top crust. Place pie into a preheated 425 oven for 20 minutes.  Reduce heat to 375 and bake for 25 minutes.  Lightly tent pie with foil and bake 25 minutes.  Take foil off and continue to bake for 12-20 minutes longer or until pie is golden and filling is bubbling.
Garnish.  Bring 1/2 cup of water and 135g of sugar to a boil.   Have a parchment lined baking sheet ready.  Dip remaining whole sprigs of rosemary into the sugar water, then roll them into extra sugar on the parchment.  Let dry.  Repeat with cranberries.
Glass Pear garnish
Cut unpeeled pear in half.  Slice very thin on a mandolin.  Place pears slices in lemon water and 1/4 cup of water for 3-5 minutes.  Preheat oven to 200 degrees,  Lay pear slices on baking sheet lined with a silpat. Top with another silpat and weigh down with a baking sheet Bake for 30-40 minutes.  Take off top baking sheet and silpat.  Reduce oven to 160 and continue to bake until dry.  40-50 minutes. Mix the remaining remaining water and 150g sugar in a saucepan.  Bring it to a boil and have it reach 300 degrees on a candy thermometer.  Take off heat and carefully dip pear slices into caramel.  Let excess drip off and place on a silpat until dry.  
Garnish pie with the beautiful items.
*. if using frozen cranberries, let thaw and drain before adding them into the pear mixture.