Doesn’t the phrase ‘poached pears’ sound so elegant? To me, it sounds like a dessert that might be served at a fancy party . . . in England. Definitely in England. There would be a table with cut crystal on it, freshly polished sterling silver flatware, wallpaper covered in roses on the wall, and a gracefully aging hostess with a ramrod straight back, who would say “Would you care for a poached pear, my dear?”
“Why yes, I believe I do,” I would assure her, tucking a curl behind one of my ears. Yes, in this vision my hair is a shining waterfall of curls, pinned up in loose poofs, with clusters of perfect corkscrews around my ears and above my alabaster brow.
But back to reality (with my brown hair which won’t hold a curl to save its life and my non-alabaster, quite freckled brow). I do have good news for all of us: besides being delicious, these pears (recipe adapted from this blogger) are a cinch to make. You toss them into a pot with a couple ingredients and they just kind of hang out there for a little over half an hour. After that, slap ’em in the fridge and you can feast off of them all week long. At least that’s what I did.
This is my idea of a perfect summer dessert–flavorful while still light, cool and satisfying on a hot evening, sweet but not cloyingly so, and they’re great either by themselves or with ice cream.
1 cup red wine
1 cup water
1/2 cup + 2 TBS sugar
1 cinnamon stick OR 1 tsp ground cinnamon
Zest and juice of 1 orange
Peel the pears, leaving the stems intact.
In a large pot, combine the red wine . . .
. . . water . . .
. . . sugar . . .
. . . orange zest (man-hand + microplane = I love my life) . . .
. . . orange juice . . .
. . . cloves and cinnamon.
In other words, all the ingredients except for the pears.
Behold our poaching liquid! Heat the pot over medium, stirring occasionally until the sugar dissolves. Don’t sweat it if some globs of orange flesh got in there, too. Whatever, say I. It’s bound to add nutritional value, right? Right. That’s what my Mom used to say about bugs. “Oh, you ate a bug? More protein for you.”
Place the pears upright into the pot, fitting them together snugly.
Bring the poaching liquid to a boil . . .
. . . then cover the pot, turn down the heat to low, and cook for 35-40 minutes.
From time to time, lift the lid and spoon the liquid over the pears.
When the lid finally comes off, you will see a thing of beauty–the red wine has soaked into the pears, making them a lovely shade of mauve.
Test the pears for doneness by turning one over and inserting a sharp knife into its–hrngh hrngh–rounded bottom.
If the knife slides in easily with just a little resistance, the pears are done.
Discard the cloves and cinnamon stick, and let the pears and syrup chill in the refrigerator overnight.
Serve the pears cut or whole, alone or with ice cream, with the syrup drizzled on top.
A little French Vanilla is a great accompaniment.
And I say ‘syrup,’ however the liquid is rather thin, as you can see here.
But perfectly flavored! If you’re looking for a thick syrup though, you can continue to reduce the liquid once the pears are cooked. I leave it in your capable hands.
Even though these pictures show the pears whole, I found them much easier and more pleasurable to eat when cut. I made slices along the core and fanned the pieces out on a plate. It was beautiful, and the arrangement looked like a flower–but my camera was far, far away . . . in the other room.
Anyway, toss some pears in a pot and serve these at your next dinner party! Or furtively hide them in the back of the fridge in a place that only you know about and eat them for your midnight snack. Either way, these will hit the spot!
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