ROASTED PINEAPPLE SPUTNIK
Frédéric’s roasted pineapple extravaganza, speared with vanilla beans so it looks like a sputnik, must be tasted to be believed.
A whole medium pineapple
4 or 5 vanilla beans
For the syrup:
½ cup/100 g sugar
1 cup/250 ml water
1 lemon, zest and juice
1 orange, juice
1 tablespoon grated fresh ginger root
1. Heat the oven to 160˚C/325˚F. Peel the pineapple (see Box). Cut the vanilla beans into 2 or 3 shorter pieces and spear the fruit, pushing the beans as far as possible into the flesh – if necessary, use a skewer to help poke holes. Set the pineapple standing upright in a baking dish.
2. Make the syrup by heating the sugar, water, grated lemon zest and juice, orange juice and the grated until the sugar is dissolved, and then simmering for 2-3 minutes. Pour the syrup over the pineapple and roast it in the heated oven, basting often, until the pineapple starts to brown and the syrup caramelizes, 1¼-1½ hours. It will become fragrant with vanilla.
3. Towards the end of the cooking, keep a close watch on the syrup as it will caramelise rapidly once it is almost reduced to a glaze. Slice the pineapple into thick rings and serve it warm, basted with the cooking syrup. Leave the vanilla beans for decoration. I’m afraid you cannot eat them but they will wonderfully perfume your sugar jar.
TO PEEL AND SLICE A WHOLE PINEAPPLE
Using a serrated breadknife, cut off the plume of the pineapple including a thin slice of flesh so the plume will sit upright and set it aside. Cut a thin slice from the base of the rest of the pineapple so it also sits upright. To remove the peel and ‘eyes’ from the fruit, with the point of a small vegetable knife follow the indent beside a slanting line of eyes, holding the knife on the diagonal first on one side, then on the other so as to detach the eyes and peel in a diagonal strip. Continue with the remaining lines of eyes until all the peel is removed. Discard the strips of peel and set the pineapple upright on the chopping board. Using an apple corer, cut out the tough central core of the pineapple. Leave it whole or cut it in slices as needed.