grilled pineapple with chilli

i loved this so much that i want to make it again and again. in fact, if you're coming to ours for dinner any time soon and don't like pineapple, i wouldn't bother. it is very likely to i will be making this for dessert until everyone i know has tried it. if you're lucky, i'll give you a bit of coconut or vanilla ice cream to go with it.

the recipe is by rowley leigh, who writes a food column in the weekend FT. (i know, get me, etc.) he's my new chef crush, largely because he does simple food well, respects great ingredients, and writes in an unpretentious style. a bit like nigel slater used to, before he got repetitive and dull. i've never been to le cafe anglais, where he is the chef, but perhaps i ought to soon.

pineapple is quite sweet so this is an occasional treat rather than an everyday snack. the original recipe uses sugar, which makes sense as the idea is to coat the fruit in syrup. i skipped it, of course, and found that a mere dollop of raw honey was enough. add a pot of chocolate sauce - just melt over gentle heat in a bain marie around 100g of 85% chocolate with a bit of double cream - and it becomes a decent dinner party option.

for four +

2 red chillies, deseeded and sliced into thin rounds
2 tsp raw honey
1 vanilla pod, cut in half lengthways and black seeds scraped out
1/2 cinnamon stick
4 star anis
10 cloves
1 pineapple

prepare the pineapple and cut into thick slices. heat a cast iron griddle pan and then grill the slices, turning them to create the criss-cross pattern. you can see on the first photo that i got to the criss but not the cross bit when i took it. if your pan is hot enough - and it should be - this should take less then ten minutes. when done, arrange the slices on a large platter.

in the meantime, make the syrup. in a small saucepan, combine the chillies, with all the other ingredients and 250ml of water. add both the vanilla seeds and the now empty pod (it's still fragrant). bring to a simmer and cook gently for 15 minutes.

when the syrup is ready, macerate the pineapple slices in it for a little while (if you can. if not, not to worry). if your fruit has gone cold, just reheat the whole thing in the oven for a few minutes.


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