Ethné de Vienne’s Poached Pears with Mastic, Saffron and Mandarin Oranges
25 MIN
30 MIN
2 H

Ethné de Vienne’s Poached Pears with Mastic, Saffron and Mandarin Oranges


  • 2 tsp mastic (see note)
  • 2/3 cup (140 g) sugar
  • 2 cups (500 ml) water
  • ½ tsp saffron
  • 2 mandarin oranges, one orange for a large 1 x 1-inch (2.5 x 2.5 cm) piece of zest and the juice, one orange for skinless segments (supremes)
  • 6 pears (not too ripe), peeled, halved lengthwise and cored
  • ½ cup (125 ml) sour cream or plain Greek yogurt
  • 1 tbsp (15 ml) honey
  • Store-bought sesame snaps, crushed, to taste


  1. In a mortar and pestle, grind the mastic with 2 tbsp of the sugar.
  2. In a large pot, combine the water, ground mastic, remaining sugar, saffron, piece of zest and juice from 1 mandarin orange. Cook over medium heat for 5 minutes or until the sugar has dissolved.
  3. Using a large spoon, gently place the pear halves, rounded-side down, into the hot syrup. Cover with a layer of paper towels and simmer gently until the pears are tender, about 15 minutes, depending on their ripeness. Remove from the heat. Transfer the pears and syrup into a large bowl. Let cool. Cover and refrigerate for 2 hours. The pears will keep for 1 week. When ready to serve, drain the pears and set the syrup aside.
  4. In a small bowl, combine the sour cream and honey.
  5. Divide the sour cream mixture among six small bowls. Place 2 pear halves in each bowl. Pour the reserved syrup over the pears. Garnish with pieces of sesame snap and mandarin supremes.


Mastic is a resin that is obtained from a tree, and is produced mainly on the Greek island of Chios. It has a delicate, pine tree taste. The small, white mastic nuggets are found in specialty grocery stores, but it can easily be omitted from this dish.