Griddled red bartlett pears wrapped in Iberico ham is a simple and satisfying holiday appetizer. This recipe comes from Francis Mallmann's newest cookbook, Mallmann on Fire, a testament to open fire cookery. This follow-up to Seven Fires, this book explores live fire cuisine in various settings to create dishes that are both earthy and sophisticated. Mallmann, along with his portable grill, built fires around the world to capture the flavors of these cities under an open flame. As you might expect, these foods are charred to perfection from grilled carrots with aged ricotta and oregano to a Spanish tortilla with fried potatoes, spinach and sun dried tomatoes. Griddled pears with Iberico ham is just one example of how Mallmann's cooking is uncomplicated but still transformative.
Griddled Red Bartlett Pears Wrapped in Iberico Ham
This simple dish is cooked on a chapa, and the crispness of the ham and the softness of the pears provide a delicious contrast of textures. Made with only four ingredients, it is a dish I like not only for its flavor, but also because it can be ready for guests within a few minutes of starting a fire. Iberico ham has the nuance of flavor of the finest Burgundy from the vineyards of Romanée-Conti. In Spain, the ham is often served with a medium-dry sherry. Here, the fruitiness, acidity, and sweetness of the pear achieve the same result. If you can’t get Iberico, regular serrano ham or prosciutto or even country ham is a good choice.
4 ripe Red Bartlett or Anjou pears
12 thin slices Iberico ham Coarse
sea salt and freshly ground black pepper
1. Slice the (unpeeled) pears about 1⁄2 inch thick. You should get 3 good slices out of each pear.
2. Heat a chapa or a large cast-iron griddle over low heat. Wrap each slice of pear in a slice of ham and arrange them seam side down on the hot surface. Cook until the fruit begins to soften and the ham is crisp on the bottom, about 3 minutes. Turn carefully, sprinkle with salt and pepper, and continue cooking until the pears are tender and the ham on the second side is crisp, about 3 minutes more. Serve immediately.
Excerpted from Mallmann On Fire by Francis Mallmann (Artisan Books). Copyright © 2014. Photographs by Santiago Soto Monllor.