London-based chef Max Rocha shares his recipe for the perfect autumn pudding
Max Rocha is a London-based chef who has worked at some of London’s finest restaurants, from St John Bread and Wine to The River Café. Over the coming weeks, he will share a series of seasonal recipes to enjoy while restaurants remain shut.
When I was asked to contribute a recipe during this second lockdown, I was so delighted to do it, as writing recipes for AnOther during the first lockdown really helped me gain some focus and structure at the beginning of several very uncertain months. Lockdown 2.0 for me is very different. During the first lockdown I spent most of my time either panicking, writing, making picnics for collection or trying to decide if I was ready to begin making some serious plans for the future.
Now, during this second lockdown, I know exactly how to spend my time. Each day is either working on menus and plans for a cafe to open next year if all goes to plan or catering for workspaces who are unable to work from home. It feels much more positive this time especially with the developments of the vaccine and latest results in the US election. There are little glimpses of hope that next year will be better. I’m also trying to not read the news as much this time which has really helped with my Covid anxiety.
This recipe embraces my favourite autumn fruit, the pear. Pears are great when poached, roasted or in this case, roasted and based in white wine and honey. I love leaving the pear whole with the skin on as it means there is no waste whatsoever. The skin is perfectly edible so there is no reason to peel it in this situation. Treat the pear like you would a roast chicken, with love and care and it will come out beautiful.
Four ripe pears
500ml white wine
One bay leaf
Zest of one orange
Two tbsp sugar
- Preheat fan oven to 180 degrees
- Wash pears, skin on, and cut the bottom so they can stand up tall
- Arrange the pears in a baking dish or semi deep pan, that they just fit touching each other
- Wisk the wine, honey and orange zest in a separate bowl and pour over the pears and place uncovered into the preheated oven
- Baste the pears every 15-20 minutes. They should take from 45 minutes – one hour to cook depending on the size of the pear
- You can check the cooking by using a skewer to pierce the skin and if it goes through very easily the pear is ready. When ready, carefully transfer the pears to a dish and pour the cooking liquid into a pan and reduce to a syrup and set aside
- While the pears are out of the oven, place the walnuts on a tray in the oven at the same temperature for ten minutes or so and allow to cool. (This can be done in advance)
- Mix the mascarpone and sugar in a separate bowl. Start with half the amount of sugar that I have recommended and taste. I like two tablespoons but it’s really up to you
On each plate, smear some of the sweetened cheese on the bottom with a little dent in the middle for your pear. Place the pear standing up straight, pour over the liquor and crush a few of the walnuts and sprinkle over the dish. Autumn in a pudding.