Braised Pear Salad

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Braised Pear Salad

Serves 6

Our daughter, Executive Chef Lisa Blackard, created this beautiful salad for a wine dinner featuring a Hartford Court Far Coast Pinot Noir 2009 from Sonoma. The pears are braised the day before with a whole vanilla bean and sparkling wine then refrigerated overnight to bring out their full flavor.

Champagne Vinaigrette

Yields 3 cups

1 cup champagne vinegar
8 teaspoons finely minced shallots
6 teaspoons Dijon mustard
10 teaspoons sugar
2 cups extra virgin olive oil
sea salt, to taste
white pepper, to taste

In a large mixing bowl, combine the champagne vinegar, shallots, Dijon mustard, and sugar. Whisk in the olive oil slowly. Season with salt and pepper. Store in the refrigerator until ready to use. Whisk again if needed before serving.

Braised Vanilla Pears

1½ cups sugar
1 cup water
1 vanilla bean
2 bottles dry sparkling wine
6 pears, peeled

Combine the sugar and water in a saucepot and boil for 2-3 minutes, thus creating a simple syrup. Split the vanilla bean in half, scraping the inside to remove the pulp. Add the sparkling wine and vanilla bean to the simple syrup. Bring to a simmer and add the pears. Poach the pears until tender, about 6-8 minutes. Remove, cool, and refrigerate overnight if possible.  Cut the pears in half and remove the cores.

Salad Assembly

4 blood oranges, supremes, sectioned
1 large bag (15 ounces) spring mix, about 6 cups
Champagne Vinaigrette
6 Braised Vanilla Pears
8 ounces goat cheese, crumbled
¾ cup walnuts, toasted

Slice the tops and bottoms off the blood oranges.  Place each orange on its flat top or bottom and remove the rest of the peel, leaving only the flesh, by carefully slicing down the orange. Pick up the orange and cut out the segments without any white membrane.

Place 1 cup of spring mix on each salad plate and top in the center with a braised pear, blood orange supreme segments, crumbled goat cheese, and toasted walnuts.  Drizzle with Champagne Vinaigrette and serve.

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