Monday, November 28, 2011

Poached Pears in Red Wine

Here's a dessert that's truly holiday worthy. It's dramatic, tasty, easy to make ahead, and best of all, it's on the healthy side of the dessert cart!


4 Bosc pears (or use other firm pears such as Bartlett)

1-1/2 cups sugar
1 cup red wine, such as Syrah
3 cups water
1 lemon
1 tsp vanilla
1 cinnamon stick
1 tsp whole cloves

1Tbs Grand Marnier


1. Use a peeler to peel the pears, leaving a small amount of skin near the stem end. Make sure the bottom of the pear is flat, so that the pear can stand upright. Use a melon baller to remove the seeds from the inside of the pear. Start at the flower end of the pear, and make several scoops to remove all the seeds and the core.
2. Toll the lemon on a counter to maximize the juice. Use a peeler to peel several strips of lemon peel, removing only the yellow part of the peel, and leaving the white pith on the lemon. Slice the lemon in half, and squeeze the juice into a cooking pot that is large enough to hold 4 pears snugly, and tall enough so that the pears can be covered by liquid. Add the sugar, wine, water, and spices to the cooking pot and place on a stovetop. Bring to a boil, stirring to dissolve the sugar.
3. Place the peeled and cored pears in the poaching liquid. Make sure the pears are covered with the liquid. If not, add a little more water, sugar, and wine (in the proportions of 1/2 cup sugar to 1/3 cup wine and 1 cup water) so that there is enough liquid to cover the pears. Cover and simmer until the pears are tender. This will be about 30 minutes for Bosc pears, and as little as 10 minutes for ripe Bartletts. Test the pears by piercing with the tip of a knife. If the pear pierces easily, it's done.
4. Let the pears cool, in the syrup. They're good warm, cool, or cold from the refrigerator. The pears can cool in the syrup for up to 3 hours. Remove them after 3 hours, and cover them on a plate. Keep the poaching liquid! Keep it in a glass container in the frig ...  you can re-use it again later.
5. To serve, cut the pears lengthwise, at 1/2 inch intervals, starting about 1/2 inch below the stem and cutting through the bottom. They're delicious as is, but can also be served with some of the thickened syrup. To thicken the syrup, pour 2 cups of the cooking liquid into a saucepan and boil for about 10 minutes until the sauce is reduced to about 2/3 cup. Stir in the Grand Marnier after the syrup is removed from the heat. Place each pear on a serving plate, then drizzle 2 Tablespoons of syrup either on top of the pear, or around the base.

Serves 4

Stealthy Cooking Tip: This dessert is quite beautiful ... and is all about the fruit. Use firm pears, with no blemishes. Also, use a wine that has a taste you like, as the pears absorb the taste of the wine.