with Grilled Pears and Ginger Sauce
Do they happens you too those times when you arrange with a couple of friends for throwing on the grill a couple of steaks at home and you do not know how or why but you find yourself having to cook a five-course dinner for half of your phone book? When it happens to me, I end up arranging everything between pyrotechnic movements between the grids and acrobatic changes of temperature along the way and find myself with the last piece of the puzzle to find: what can I grill as appetizer? Need something non-trivial, that knows how to surprise, but at the same time may like to everyone but most of all that gets caught in those ten minutes in which (maybe) I could have the grid as free in the circus of the scheduled set up changes. On these occasions, Planked Ricotta often helped me.
It’s a really simple and fast recipe, which however knows how to make people fall in love with it and that also winks at the gourmet world. What do you want more? Imagine a cherry plank in partial burning, with a ricotta cheese mold on it, until the smoke changes its appearance and consistency, giving it a beautiful amber color and full body like a “cheese cake”. Basically a ricotta in the oven but smoked and home made in ten minutes. It lends itself particularly well to being sliced like a cake, in order to highlight the beautiful contrast between the pure white of the interior and the intriguing bronze of the outer crust. There are many combinations possible with sauces, purée, chutney or jams in contrast, among which I suggest you try if you want to make it even more elegant, a simple chestnut honey with some black truffle flakes but I must say that the sauce we do in this post is certainly the one that has received the highest approval ever. We will match a sauce of grilled pears, pepper, lemon and ginger. About the quantity of the ricotta, I usually use some medium/small molds and I make two or three on each plank but on this occasion I will limit myself to two small single-portion molds.
2 little molds of Ricotta
1 cherry plank
1 Abate Pear
2 tea spoons of Oakridge Santa Maria rub
1 spoon of fresh grated Ginger
- Peel the pears and cut into wedges, apply a pinch of rub on each side, rubbing well to distribute it homogeneously and place immediately in cooking. I find myself very well for this purpose, to use a ceramic plate that on a sugary pulp like that of the fruit guarantees a nice cauterization without burns. If this is also your choice, first heat the plate on the device at maximum temperature. If instead you decide to grill the slices of pear directly, I suggest you proceed at a moderate temperature.
- Turn the slices of pears until you get the most intense external cauterization that you can. The more cauterization you will get the more your sauce will have a distinctive grilled character. Then put the pear in a glass of a blender, squeeze in the half lemon and grate over the ginger. The recipe also works well with powdered ginger but I strongly recommend the fresh one: to the retronasal pungency for which it is famous, adds a fragrance and an extra freshness that really makes the difference. Homogenize everything and keep aside.
- After wetting the cherry plank, turn over the ricotta forms and place immediately on the grid at maximum power with lid closed. If you have a coal-fired device, I recommend using hardwood charcoal, if you have a gas one, evaluated according to its power if it is sufficient to place the plank on the grill or if you need to remove it to make the plank stand directly on the flavorizer bars.
- After about 3-5 minutes you should start to see the plank’s smoke coming out of your device. Leave the ricotta in the device until it has acquired a beautiful golden-bronze color. If when you open the lid, receiving the blast of air, the plank will tend to catch fire, it is likely that the time has come to remove it from cooking. If it tends to catch fire without the ricotta having acquired color, it is almost certain that the power was not adequate. In any case, the whole thing should last for about 10 minutes. At the end of cooking I suggest you let it cool plank and ricotta for about 10 minutes: at this time it is too hot, it would tend to crumble when you cut it and the smoky note would be little perceptible.
You just have to slice the ricotta into wedges and serve it in a fan shape, with a few drops of sauce on it. The contrast is delicious: the acidulous sweet tendency of the ricotta and the aromatic note of the cherry smoke, the sweetness of the pear and the pungency of the ginger and of the pepper draw an incredibly articulate and complex picture. Have you ever thought of getting an appetizer like that in 10 minutes?