Saturday, November 7, 2009

Poached Pears

Never one to skip dessert, I have been eyeing a stack of decaying pears on my shelf, wondering just what concoction they might make their way into. Fruit has many delicious applications, but sometimes when you add fruits to cakes or other fluffy creations, their natural sweetness gets lost. Pears, especially, have a kind of grainy texture that makes them less flexible sometimes than their genetic relative, the apple. This limits my choices.

So how could I eat the pear in a dessert-like fashion, while still preserving its pear-ness as much as possible? And capitalizing on its strengths without calling attention to its challenges? By poaching it of course! In red wine of course! Which would make it sweet and melty and rich and pear-y all at the same time (of course)!

This "recipe" is something of a conglomeration from many pears-poached-in-red-wine recipes I have read over the years. It is absurdly easy to do and has pretty elegant results. It can be done way ahead of time, as allowing the poached pears to hang out in their juices for a few days only renders them more delicious when the time comes to enjoy them.

Poached pears love their red wine sauce. They also love caramel, dark chocolate, and vanilla ice cream. Combine at your leisure.

Pears Poached in Red Wine
serves 1-2 -- or however many pears you buy (increasing wine-and-sugar accordingly); takes 1 hr or up to 2 days

2 pears, peeled, halved and cored (carefully)
2 cups red wine
3/4 cup sugar
1 vanilla bean, split (optional)
ice cream, for serving
  1. In a medium saucepan, combine wine, sugar, and vanilla bean over medium heat. You want to choose your pan based on how your pears will fit. The pears should be submerged (almost submerged is fine too) in the liquid. Bring liquid to a boil and drop in your pears. Reduce to a simmer and cook pears until soft, about 40 minutes. Spoon liquid over any exposed parts and flip halfway through if necessary.
  2. When done, remove pears from sauce and increase heat slightly. Boil until wine sauce has reduced to a syrupy consistency. If you like, store the pears in their liquid in an airtight container in your fridge for up to 3 days before serving. Flavors will intensify.
  3. Serve warm or at room temperature with red wine sauce, vanilla ice cream, and a really intense brownie if you have one. Suh-weet!

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