30 Sep Perada (Pear Cheese or Pear Jelly)
Long considered a delicacy in Iberian and Latin cultures, Perada is nicely paired with cheeses such as Manchego. For a detailed history and cheese-pairing suggestions, see Chef Mark Tafoya’s article, A Sensual Flamenco Alegria.
Makes about 12 oz. of cheese or 16 oz. of jelly
6 or 7 medium pears (enough to make 3 cups purée)
2 ½ cups castor sugar
7 oz. water
Juice of ½ lemon
4 tablespoons liquid pectin (optional)
Cook the pears in boiling water, whole and unpeeled, until soft. Peel when still slightly warm and sieve the pulp using a food mill or a metal spoon and wire mesh strainer. You should have 3 cups of pear purée. The amount of sugar should be about ¾ that of the purée.
Dissolve the sugar in 7 oz. of water. Boil this syrup for a few minutes until it reaches 218° F, and add the pear and the lemon juice. Continue to cook, stirring, until it reaches a rapid boil. Boil for a few minutes, then reduce heat to low. Cook for an hour or so, stirring often enough so it doesn’t stick to the bottom, until the mixture reduces and thickens. It will be ready when the mixture pulls away from the sides of the pan. Fill bowls, cool completely, and refrigerate until set.
[Chef’s Note: To mold the perada into a form that will hold its shape for slicing, you can add liquid pectin, or include an apple along with the pears while cooking. This will help the perada to set fully so it can be sliced, since pears are naturally low in pectin. Pour into molds and allow to set fully. Once set and totally cooled, unmold and slice.]
Unmold, slice, and serve with a variety of cheeses.
Recipe and photo by Mark Tafoya