March 26, 2013

Bear Essentials: Pineapple
( + Cinnamon-Poached Pineapple)

Until I was nine or ten and learned about Super Mario Brothers, the best thing I could imagine winning was the serving of fruit cocktail that held the one lipstick-colored, smashed half of a maraschino cherry.

If you don't understand this reference, canned fruit clearly didn't feature as heavily in your childhood as it did in mine.

Almost every entree had its canned-fruit accompaniment.  Hot Dogs?  Canned Pears.  Meatloaf?  Canned Peaches.  Fish Sticks?  Canned Fruit Cocktail, obviously.

You're filled with envy over my childhood now, aren't you?   Just wait.  I haven't even told you about the Beans 'n Franks yet.

It took me a longer than I'm proud of to realize that fruit cocktail wasn't actually my favorite, that I only liked it for its cherry, and that preferring it was like saying gas-station burritos are the best because you can buy a lotto ticket while you're eating them.

It was at that point that I began my love affair with canned pineapple: sweet, tangy, and soaking in a syrupy nectar that you might get away with drinking straight out of the emptied can if your parents' backs were turned.  And if you made yourself an upside-down cake with it...well, then you could have your maraschino cherries, too.

This recipe is like a classed-up version of pineapple tidbits, and almost as easy as opening a can.  Simmered in a spiced syrup, fresh pineapple cooks just until softened and soaks up the surprisingly perfect flavor of cinnamon.  And if you happened to drink a spoonful or two of the syrup on its own?  

I won't tell if you won't.

Fresh Pineapple Poached in Cinnamon Syrup
barely adapted from Ed Behr
in Bon Appetit

Water  [ 1  1/2 cups ]
Sugar  [ 3/4 cup ]
Cinnamon Sticks  [ 3, broken in half ]
Fresh Ginger  [ 3 slices, each 1/4-inch thick ]
Lemon  [ 1 slice,  1/4-inch thick ]
Fresh Pineapple  [ 1 large, about 4 1/2 pounds, peeled, cored, and cut lengthwise into 8 wedges, then crosswise into 3/4-inch thick pieces ]

1.   In a large pot over Medium heat, stir together Water, Sugar, Cinnamon Sticks, Ginger, and Lemon until Sugar has dissolved.
2.   Bring to a boil.
3.   Cover; simmer 10 minutes.
4.   Add Pineapple to Syrup.
5.   Simmer Pineapple until it starts to turn translucent  [ about 7 minutes ].
6.    Discard Ginger and Lemon.
7.   Pour Pineapple and Syrup into a bowl.
8.   Refrigerate until cold  [ at least 2 hours ].

Serves 4 to 6.

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