Pears can be poached in either red OR white wine......I prefer to poach mine in red wine, and I also consider this a fall/winter dessert....must be the burgundy colour of the pears and the subtle wintry spices that evoke the first brisk autumn night or a cold winters eve.....
I recently made these this past February....they were a hit.....in fact, a friend and excellent caterer called them 'superb' ooh la la....
Very simple to make, though a couple key steps are crucial:
- Choose ripe but firm, unblemished Bosc pears, Bosc are best....they won't disintegrate in the poaching process (nod to Martha there)
- Choose pears that have their stems firmly intact! this will be key upon presentation
- Before poaching, Trim the end of the pear, the root end and NOT the stem end :) You want to cut the end off so that the poached pear will stand upright on the plate without falling over
- Seemlessly in one stroke trim the pears of their skins
- Pears are best made ONE DAY IN ADVANCE
- I must admit the recipe is part Julia Child and part Martha Stewart
- Purchase a decent medium body red or white wine, one that you would drink. If going for red wine, anything NOT pinot noir as it won't give the nice depth of colour you are looking for and lacks flavour substance
- One bottle will do 6-8 pears
- Into a large soup kettle combine the bottle of wine, one recipe simple syrup, see below, and enough water to just submerge the pears (you don't want to dilute the wine with too much water)
- Add to the pot: 1 cinnamon stick, 4 juniper berries, if you have on hand, 6 whole cloves, and one star anise
- Set a piece of parchment on top of the submerged pears (cut to the size of your pot) Cover pot with lid
- Bring to a boil, reduce heat immediately to a slow simmer. Stir the pears every now and then so that they colour evenly. Simmer for 20 minutes or so, when you think they are done (just soft) insert a sharp knife to check. You don't want the pear mushy, the knife should insert easily but should still be a bit firm
- Remove pot from heat. Remove lid from pot but leave the parchment. Continue to stir the pears until they cool off, ensuring even red wine colour distribution.
- Once cool.....place the whole pot in the fridge overnight (return lid to the pot)
- Next day:
- Carefully with spoon, remove the pears from poaching liquid, stand up cut end down
- Simmer the poaching liquid and reduce to a syrupy consitency
- Serve the pears on a plate or wide shallow bowl.....stand the pear, drizzle reduced syrup over pear to form a small pool on plate
- Dollop of soft whipped cream or creme fraiche alongside the pear
- Can shave best dark chocolate over all (optional)
- Fork and spoon, both are necessary......fork to spear and hold the pear steady, spoon to gather speared fruit, syrup and whipped cream in one delicious mouthful
- Bon Appetit
as per Julia Child:
"the rule for poaching syrup: the proportions for a fruit poaching syrup are always 1 1/2 cups sugar for each quart of liquid - water or wine or 6 Tbsp sugar per cup of liquid "
(in the above instance i used water)