Friday, September 18, 2015

Poached Pears “Belle Helene” - Why Escoffier Really Created This Dish

They say Auguste Escoffier created this dish in honor of the opera, La Belle Helen, but we chefs know the real reason. How else are you going to use up bruised pears in such a delicious and beautiful way? Okay, so maybe that wasn’t his motivation, but as you’ll see in the video, it sure does work great.

The recipe is very straightforward, so instead we’ll go into your options for the chocolate sauce, as well as what to do with all that extra simple syrup. We have two chocolate preparations that will work for this (and have been linked). The first would be our easy hot fudge recipe; and the second, and more traditional choice, would be the classic chocolate ganache.

If you follow the link to the later, you’ll be taken to our Boston Cream Pie video, where you’ll see the technique for creating a classic ganache, but you’ll probably need to adjust the ratio of cream to chocolate. Generally it’s equal parts chocolate and cream, but if you want something more pourable, then 2 parts cream to 1 part chocolate (by weight) would work better.

As far as the extra vanilla poaching liquid goes; you’ll want to strain it, pour it into some cool looking bottles, and give it away as edible gifts. The taste is incredible. Better than the pears, if we’re being honest, and would make a fantastic holiday treat for the wannabe mixologists in your life. I really hope you give this a try soon. Enjoy!

Ingredients for 4 poached pears:
6 cups water
zest and juice of one lemon
4 bosc pears, cored and peeled (you can also use Anjou or Bartlett)
1 split vanilla bean, or a few teaspoons of vanilla extract
3 cups sugar
Simmer for about 20-25 minutes, depending on size and firmness


Claire said...

Hi Chef --

If we happen to not enjoy chocolate + fruit together, would it be possible to boil down some of the simmering liquid and pour it over the pear and pair with ice cream? I promise not to call it Pears Belle Helen...

Anonymous said...

It's a shame you couldn't "pear" this with prepared horseradish!
(HA!I slay me!) XD

Unknown said...

How long does the strained poaching liquid last in a bottle and how should it be stored?

Chef John said...

A sugar syrup stored in an airtight bottle will pretty much last forever.

Chef John said...

Claire, of course!

Unknown said...

Claudia won masterchef with a poached pear. I'm definitely going to try this!

Christoph Obrecht said...

I love the simple ones and this recipe is. I wonder, for conversation sake, what does the poaching do to the pear's nutritional value?

Unknown said...

Good Day Chef,
I love a recipe with history. Although, I flunked out of 5 History classes :( But, I wonder what chocolate do you prefer?

Kristi said...

Hi, Chef! I've tried making this recipe two years in a row for an annual special occasion. I've followed it to the letter, and the pears turn out beautifully, but the chocolate doesn't stick to my pears like it does in your video. It just slides right off. There's no mention of it, but are you drying your pears off before the chocolate bath? My friends love this recipe and assure me that they're fine with the ganache at the bottom of the plate, but it bugs me because I think the chocolate clinging to the pears makes for a beautiful presentation. What am I doing wrong? Thank you for everything!