New Year’s Eve 2010 was a medieval expression of magnificence in the culinary quarters chez les gastronomes of Stanny House Farm… extravagant platter followed on headily from the previous and so on and so forth… I shall elaborate anon. Let me simply whet the appetite by mentioning the fruit that accompanied the second dish (I can’t resist, ‘twas woodcock on toast) - a pickled pear.
Those of you not as yet convinced by the combination of fruits and meats have only to experience the dextrous combination of rich deeply flavoured woodcock and the sharp, biting sweetness of the pickled pear.
The pears were pickled in September. They are small, of a variety to be confirmed, and provide in abundance in early September. I used windfalls – the winds were thundering through the county this September, the windfalls filling my basket over and over.
I first peeled the pears leaving them whole.
Cook the whole pears in water with a little salt and sugar, until tender.
Combine 1 lt Vinegar of choice (I suggest cider vinegar), 400g Sugar, Cloves, Peppercorns, Lemon Rind, Ground Ginger, chopped Root Ginger, Mustard Seed and Onion (I like to quarter shallots).
Bring to the boil.
Add the pears.
Bring to the boil again.
Pot in sterilised jars, covering in the vinegar and adding bay leaves.
Leave a few months to allow time to pickle. Serve come winter with game, cheeses or cold meats.