In the street markets of Sara Buri, Thailand, fruit vendors display plates of their crop for customers to sample before purchasing. While the entire fresh produce selection was incredible, the sweet aroma of pineapple caught my attention. Cut in thick slices, the pineapple juice ran freely when bitten into and thus began my pineapple passion. The recipe below is not authentic Thai since it incorporates cheese, but the combination of sweet and lime provides a great buffer to the heat of Thai dishes. Flavor Tier 1 and Tier 2 involve broiling the pineapple slices to increase the juice flow and replicate those Thai pineapples. Cambozola is a mild blue cheese so generally satisfies most diners but feel free to switch to a stronger flavor such as Stilton. Flavor Tier 4 provides an appealing texture to the dish so do not be tempted to eliminate. If locating fresh water chestnuts is difficult, you can substitute canned. Simply drain and using paper towels squeeze out as much water as possible.
1 fresh pineapple
½ T safflower oil
4 t orange blossom honey
¼ c Cambozola blue cheese, room temperature
1 T lime zest
8 fresh water chestnuts (buy a few more just in case a few are too ripe)
1 T ghee (clarified butter)
1 t extra virgin olive oil
¼ t kosher salt
Heat oven to broil. Place oven rack on top tier slot. Line a baking sheet with foil and place a wire rack on top of the foil
Place the pineapple on its side on a cutting board. Using a sharp knife, cut off the top and the bottom. Stand the pineapple upright on its bottom. Cut from the top to the bottom to remove all of the peel. Check to make sure all of the “pineapple eyes” have been removed. Place pineapple on its side and slice four ½” slices cross wise. Carefully cut out the center core. Brush both sides of the pineapple with the safflower oil. Place on the wire rack on the baking sheet. Place under broiler. Broil for 4-5 minutes until tops are lightly browned.
Turn the pineapple slices over and brush with the honey. Place back under broiler and broil for an additional 4-5 minutes watching carefully to avoid burning. Remove from oven. Cool slightly.
While the pineapple is broiling, combine the blue cheese and 1 ½ teaspoon lime zest. Spread ½ tablespoon of the blue cheese on the top of each warm pineapple slice. Cut pineapple into chunks and evenly divide between six small plates.
Cut off the top of the water chestnuts and peel. If the water chestnut is mushy when you peel, discard. It is too ripe. Thinly slice chestnuts crosswise. Melt ghee and olive oil in a small skillet over medium high heat. Sauté 5-7 minutes, stirring occasionally, until lightly brown. Remove from heat. Drain water chestnuts on paper towels. Place in a bowl and sprinkle with pink sea salt and mix slightly. Place the water chestnut slices over and around the pineapple slices.
Evenly sprinkle remaining lime zest on the slices.