Hell's Kitchen's Chef Ja'Nel Witt Shares Her Top 5 Holiday Recipes

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  • Spice Rubbed Scallops with Chickpea, Blistered Tomato and Corn Succotash, Warm Garbanzo Puree Finished with Herb Oil
  • White Chocolate–Chai Pots de Crème’
  • Poached Pear and Fresh Blueberry Tart with Port Wine Caramel and Almond Cream
  • Grilled Mahi Mahi with Citrus Argentine Chimichurri and Charred Sweet Potatoes
  • Anise-Infused Lamb Shank with Tricolor Israeli Couscous, Dried Cranberries and Apples
  • Chef Ja'Nel Witt

Poached Pear and Fresh Blueberry Tart With Port Wine Caramel and Almond Cream

Fresh pears are simmered in spiced port wine and baked with fresh blueberries and decadent almond cream.

Ingredients for the poached pears:
1 lb Bartlett pears, peeled, halved, and cored
8 oz sugar
2 cinnamon sticks
2 star anise pods
10 whole black peppercorns
1 orange, cut in half, juiced and fruit reserved
4 oz Port wine
4 oz red wine
8 oz water

Procedure:
-In medium sauce pan, combine all ingredients (being sure pears are submerged), and 4 oz of sugar.
-Cut a piece of parchment paper into a circle the same diameter of the pan. Place on top of pears, this will ensure pears stay submerged during poaching.
-Cook over low heat 25-30 mins or until pears are easily pierced with a knife, but not mushy.
-Remove pears from liquid and allow to cool completely, strain poaching liquid and reserve.
-Bring poaching liquid to a simmer with remaining sugar, reduce by 2/3 (should resemble thick maple syrup).

For tart dough:
2 1/2 cups flour, all purpose
1 tsp salt
1 tbs sugar
1 cup cold butter, small dice
1/2 cup ice water

Procedure:
-In food processor combine flour, sugar, and salt, pulse to combine.
-Add the butter, and pulse just until it combined (it should resemble coarse crumbs approx. 10 seconds).
-Add 1 tbs of water at a time and pulse until dough comes together, but not wet or sticky.
-Remove dough onto a clean work space, and divide in half, wrap in plastic and chill 1 hr to overnight.
-Remove one ball of dough and on a floured surface roll out to 1/8 inch thick.
-Transfer to a tart pan, and blind bake approx 5-7 minutes. Cool and hold.

Ingredients for the almond cream:
1/2 cup ground almond meal
1/4 cup sugar
1 large egg
3 tbs butter, softened
1 tsp vanilla extract
1 tbs flour, all purpose
Procedure:
-Combine all ingredients in a food processor and puree until smooth paste is formed

To assemble tart:
Poached pears, sliced thinly and fanned
6 oz fresh blueberries
1 Prepared tart shell

-Preheat oven to 375 degrees, and place rack in center of the oven.
-Create a thin layer (about 1⁄2 inch thick) of the almond cream on the tart shell.
-Fan poached pears around the perimeter of the tart (be sure to keep them as even as possible).
-Fill center of tart with a single layer of blueberries (be sure to cover as much almond cream as you can).
-Sprinkle top of tart with a thin layer of sugar.
-Bake at 375 degrees for 20-25 minutes (blueberries should be bursting and almond cream should be set).
-Serve drizzled with the reserved Port Wine Caramel and a scoop of vanilla bean ice-cream.

(Photo: Courtesy of Chef Ja'Nel Witt)

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