- 3 ripe pears (Starkrimson pears are really pretty in this dish)
- 3 tablespoons maple syrup
- 3 tablespoons balsamic vinegar
- Freshly ground pepper
- 9 black mission figs, stems removed
- 1 cup pear or apple cider
- 2 tablespoons olive oil
- 1/4 cup thinly sliced pancetta or prosciutto (optional)
- 3 shallots, peeled and sliced
- 2 to 3 leaves fresh sage, minced
- Salt, to taste
- 4 ounces Gorgonzola cheese
Preheat oven to 400° F.
Cut pears in half lengthwise and remove stems and core. Cut each pear half crosswise into about 6 slices and place cut side down in a baking dish just large enough to hold all 6. Fan each half forward a bit to expose some of the white pear flesh. Combine maple syrup and balsamic vinegar and brush each pear half lightly. Sprinkle with a little black pepper.
Cut each fig in half and place, cut side up, on a separate baking sheet. Brush each fig with a little maple syrup mixture. Reserve remaining for dressing.
Pour cider around pears and place in the oven. Roast for about 20 minutes (depending on ripeness) or until the pears are tender. Roast figs for 10 minutes or until they puff slightly in the center. (You may boil the cooking liquid from the pears down to a syrup to serve on the side if you like.)
In a heavy sauté pan, heat olive oil over medium heat and add pancetta. Cook for 2 to 3 minutes; stir in shallots and sage. Stir-fry the mixture just until shallots are lightly golden. Turn the heat to medium-high and add remaining maple syrup mixture. Cook, stirring, until the mixture is bubbly and lightly reduced. Season with salt and pepper.
Divide shallots between 6 plates. Top each with half a pear, 3 fig halves, a wedge of Gorgonzola and any of the additional garnish options listed in the Note section.
Additional garnish options: dried cranberries, toasted hazelnuts, sauteed chanterelle mushrooms, fried sage leaves and roasted butternut squash.