eat. A bounty of pears on our tree again this season. So, what to do with them all? I’ve been using them in salads, eating them with slices of cheese, adding them to curries, and of course giving lots away to friends.
Last week we hosted a dinner party, and I decided to poach a few of the pears for dessert. It’s amazingly easy, and makes an elegant finish to a nice meal. Start with pears that are ripe but still quite firm:
Peel them, then cut them however you want for the poaching (I did quarters, but you could do halves, as well). Make sure to keep them submerged in water until use so they don’t turn brown.
For my five large pears, I used a half a cup of red wine (it was just some plonk that was sitting in the fridge for use as a cooking wine):
To the wine I added about a half a cup of sugar,
and the seeds from four cardamom pods (lay the flat of a knife on them and smack it, to get to the seeds):
Bring the wine/sugar/cardamom mixture to a boil, and then lay the pears in the liquid and simmer. (You can see that I changed pans at this point, realizing that I needed a skillet rather than a sauce pan to have room for them all):
Turn them over half way through the cooking, if there isn’t enough poaching liquid to cover them.
When a fork or knife slides easily into their centers, they’re done. Mine took about ten minutes.
Remove the pears from the liquid, and strain out the seeds.
Next, bring the poaching liquid to a boil and cook it until it has reduced to a thick and syrupy consistency.
I ended up with this much syrup.
This much can be done a day or two before you want to use the pears. Just keep them and the syrup in the fridge till you need them.
For my dessert, I laid four quarters on a plate and set a scoop of vanilla bean ice cream (Marianne’s—yum!) on top:
Then I drizzled on some of the poaching syrup, and garnished the dessert with candied pecans I’d made some time back and had in the freezer, and a mint sprig.
I was quite pleased. The acid in the wine balanced the sweet syrup and ice cream, and the cardamom imparted an exotic, but not-too-strong, perfume-like flavor.
Try it, you’ll like it!