With Anise Seed, Almonds and Port

  • 3 tablespoons unblanched almonds,
  • 1 tablespoon extra-virgin olive oil or bacon fat or a combination
  • 2 firm-ripe Bartlett pears, peeled, cored and sliced in eighths
  • 1/2 teaspoon anise seeds
  • 3 tablespoons port
  • abundant freshly ground black pepper

In a heavy-bottomed frying pan over medium heat, toast the almonds until flecked with brown. Dump them onto a cutting board and let them cool. Chop the almonds roughly when you have a second.

Add the fat(s) to the pan and melt over medium-high to high heat. When very hot, but not quite smoking, add the pear slices in one layer, turning after a few minutes to sear all sides. Add the anise seeds in the final minute or two of cooking. When the pears are browned a bit on both sides, add the port to the pan (careful not to splash) and shake it all around. Bring to a robust simmer, grinding over pepper, Toss in the almonds then scrape it all into a serving bowl or storage jar. Serve alongside your favorite cheese.