MINT JULEP PINEAPPLE BOATS (for 10 to 12)
Unadorned fresh pineapple is a standard end to a Chinese meal, and serving it in a boat made of its own shell adds style to the usual tooth-picked presentation. The addition of rum, kirsch, or mint julep ingredients moves the pineapple to the tropics or the American south.
2 of the largest, ripest, sweetest and finest pineapples available, or 3 or even 4 smaller pineapples (Pineapples are in season from April through June. Pick pineapples that look fresh and healthy, with no leaking juices, bleary eyes or soft spots. The base of the pineapple should be yellow and the crown of leaves should be fresh, green and upright. It should smell sweet and ripe.)
4 tablespoons bourbon or blended whiskey
½ cup finely chopped fresh mint plus 4 tablespoons whole small fresh mint leaves
2 tablespoons sugar
1. Cut the pineapple in half lengthwise, being very careful when you come to the leafy crown that you cut the greenery in half, too, and keep it attached to the fruit — this is important for visual appeal later. Then cut the halves lengthwise into halves or thirds (ditto the leaves, still attached to the fruit). Cut out and discard the hard core along the center of each wedge. Using a sharp, flexible knife, cut the wedge close against the skin all the way around to release the flesh from the skin. Cut the flesh in half lengthwise, then cut it crosswise into ½ inch wide slices.
2. Replace the slices on the pineapple skin, or boat, and arrange the boats attractively on a platter garnished with mint sprigs. Cover closely with plastic wrap and refrigerate until you are ready to serve.
3. Stir together bourbon, chopped mint and sugar in a small bowl. Let stand 20 minutes to allow flavors to develop. Pour bourbon mixture through a sieve onto pineapple boats and garnish with mint leaves just before serving. (This also works well with grilled pineapple slices.)
adapted from Julia Child & More Company
SERVE WITH: Old-fashioned tea cakes