My sister-in-law Franziska works at Studer, a lovely little distillery in Escholzmatt, in the heart of the Entlebuch. This has certain benefits. Not only have we been the recipients of many a bottle of booze over the years, but in certain seasons we have also received gifts of the raw product, fruit.
Currently they are processing pears at the distillery, which will soon become their prize winning Poire Williams, or pear brandy. As described on their website, it is indeed a joy to the palate.
But what to do with a bushel of pears?
One easy dish is Tatsch, a specialty from Graubunden. This is a simple batter of flour, milk, and eggs, that is rested for an hour, then fried. It has been described as a sort of sweet kind of spätzli, or akin to the Austrian Kaiserschmarrn, but this is a thicker, chewier kind of dumpling. And it goes well with pears, here in compote form.
I based my recipe on one found on the Swiss agriculture association website, though I would argue that if this is your main meal it only feeds about two.
150 g flour
1 tbsp sugar
250 ml milk
butter for frying
Put the flour, sugar, and salt into a medium bowl.
In a liquid measuring cup, whisk together the milk and eggs.
Whisk the wet ingredients into the dry.
Cover with plastic wrap and let sit for 30-60 minutes.
Once the batter has rested, heat a frying pan on medium high heat. Add a little butter and once it is bubbling, add the batter. Cook for a couple of minutes until you can smell it and the bottom is golden.
Now comes the fun part.
With flat wooden spoons, or other similar implement, cut the batter into cubes. The batter is quite spongy and you need to use a bit of force to break it up. As you break up the pieces, move them around the pan to brown on all sides.
Once the pieces are golden remove from pan and serve with warm compote, sliced fruit, maple syrup...
Serves 2 for a main course.
4 large pears
sprinkle of sugar and cinnamon
splash of water
splash of Williams (pear brandy)
Chop the pears into cubes and put them in a medium saucepan with a sprinkle of sugar and cinnamon, and a splash of water.
Heat over medium, stirring occasionally so the pears don't stick to the bottom of the pan.
Cook until the pears have reduced into a soft compote.
Add a dash of cinnamon and a splash of Williams (or other spirit) for good measure.
If you need the compote in a hurry you can cook it on a higher heat, especially at the beginning. Just keep stirring and breaking up the pieces so they don't stick to the bottom of the pot and get burnt.
You could replace many other fruits in this compote—plums, apples, peaches, berries—the cooking time will just depend on how easily they break down.
According to Canadian law, I was was required to douse my tatsch in maple syrup before adding the pear compote.
We ate this for breakfast, but it would also make a great, sweet dinner.