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Wild Rice with Pears, Sausage, and Candied Pecans

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Serves 4

  • by from Fine Cooking
    Issue 108

Comice pears are one of the sweetest and most succulent varieties, with a rich buttery texture that pairs well here with the chewy wild rice and crunchy pecans. Take care not to overcook them or they'll break down and lose their bite.

  • 1 cup wild rice
  • Kosher salt
  • 1 Tbs. olive oil
  • 6 oz. sweet Italian sausage (casings removed if using links), crumbled
  • 1 small yellow onion, finely diced (about 1 cup)
  • 2 Tbs. dry vermouth
  • 1 Tbs. chopped fresh sage
  • 1 tsp. chopped fresh thyme
  • 2 small fresh bay leaves (optional)
  • 2 small ripe pears (preferably Comice), peeled, cored, cut lengthwise into 1/2 inch-thick wedges, and then crosswise into 1/2 inch pieces
  • 1/2 Tbs. unsalted butter
  • 1/4 cup pecans
  • 1 Tbs. packed dark brown sugar
  • Sea salt and freshly ground black pepper

Bring 4 cups of water to a boil in a 4-quart saucepan. Add the wild rice and a generous pinch of salt, reduce the heat to maintain a gentle simmer, and cook until tender, 30 to 45 minutes.

Meanwhile, heat the oil in a 12-inch skillet over medium heat. Add the sausage and cook, breaking up any big chunks with a spoon, until browned and cooked through, 3 to 4 minutes. With a slotted spoon, transfer the sausage to a paper-towel-lined plate. Add the onion and 1/2 tsp. salt to the skillet and cook, stirring occasionally, until just tender, about 3 minutes. Add the vermouth and with a wooden spoon scrape up any browned bits from the pan; cook until the vermouth evaporates, 1 to 2 minutes. Add the sage, thyme, and bay leaves (if using), and continue cooking until the onion is very tender and the herbs are fragrant, 3 to 4 minutes. Return the sausage to the pan, add the pears, and cook just until warmed through, 1 to 2 minutes. Remove from the heat and set aside.

In an 8-inch nonstick skillet, melt the butter over medium heat. Add the pecans and cook, stirring often, until lightly toasted, 1 to 2 minutes. Add the brown sugar and stir until melted and beginning to caramelize, 1 to 2 minutes. Sprinkle with a pinch of sea salt, transfer to a plate, and let cool. Roughly chop the nuts.

When the wild rice is cooked, drain any excess water. Return the rice to the pan and cook over medium heat to dry out slightly, 1 to 2 minutes. Remove the bay leaves (if used) from the pear mixture. Add the pear mixture to the wild rice and toss to combine. Season to taste with sea salt and pepper. Transfer to a serving bowl, sprinkle with the chopped nuts, and serve.

nutrition information (per serving):
Calories (kcal): 370; Fat (g): fat g 14; Fat Calories (kcal): 120; Saturated Fat (g): sat fat g 3.5; Protein (g): protein g 14; Monounsaturated Fat (g): 7; Carbohydrates (g): carbs g 49; Polyunsaturated Fat (g): 2.5; Sodium (mg): sodium mg 680; Cholesterol (mg): cholesterol mg 15; Fiber (g): fiber g 6;

Photo: Scott Phillips

This is a very nice wild rice recipe. The candied pecans add a nice sweetness and crunch, the pears add a nice soft bite, and a different softer sweetness, and the sausage really rounds out the dish. Excellent recipe.

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