Cold-weather meals eaten around the kitchen table are even cozier with the aroma of a pot of simmering pears. Red-wine poaching imbues the pears with a deep garnet color and makes a beautiful finale to meals of roasts and braises. Poaching in white wine imparts a more delicate flavor, serving as an elegant end to a dinner of grilled chicken or fish. You can experiment with spices. I like to put in a whole cinnamon stick and star anise, an orange peel, a vanilla bean, and fresh ginger. The recipe can be made with other fruits—try rhubarb, hard peaches, or nectarines.
- Yield: 4 Servings
- 3 CUPS RED OR WHITE WINE (SEE “COOKING WITH WINE”)
- 3 CUPS WATER
- ½ CUP HONEY
- ABOUT 1 TABLESPOON MIXED WHOLE SPICES AND AROMATICS,
- SUCH AS CARDAMOM, STAR ANISE, ALLSPICE, OR CLOVES
- ONE CINNAMON STICK
- 1 VANILLA BEAN, SPLIT
- ONE 2-INCH STRIP OF CITRUS PEEL (OPTIONAL)
- ONE 2-INCH PIECE OF FRESH GINGER, PEELED AND CUT INTO BATONS
- 4 FIRM BUT RIPE BOSC PEARS, PEELED, STEMS LEFT INTACT
- ICE CREAM AND/OR TOASTED NUTS, FOR SERVING (OPTIONAL)
- Fill a medium pot with the wine, water, honey, spices, cinnamon stick, vanilla, citrus peel (if using), and ginger. Stir to combine and set aside.
- Remove the seeds from the bottom of each pear, using either a paring knife to carefully carve them out or a teaspoon to scoop them.
- Place the pears in the pot with the liquid, cover, and bring the poaching liquid to a simmer over low heat. Cook until the pears are tender, 30 minutes to 1 hour, depending on the ripeness of the pears.
- With a slotted spoon, transfer the pears to a serving bowl. Continue to simmer the liquid for 10 to 12 minutes, or until the sauce thickens enough to coat the back of a spoon. The liquid will reduce to about 1 cup.
- Ladle the syrup over the pears and serve alongside a scoop of ice cream. prinkle on chopped nuts, if you like.