In a previous post, I wrote about a dessert of baked pears that we enjoy making. We also like a dish of poached pears, cooked in a wine syrup; we use red wine in the cooler months and white wine in summer, with some corresponding variations to the added flavours.
Use pear varieties that are suitable for poaching – Beurre bosc is commonly chosen in Australia – and choose pears that are not at all soft, otherwise they will turn to mash. Use a fruity Cabernet-based wine in winter/spring and a fruity Chardonnay in summer; but don’t pay top dollar – a drink-now bottle will suffice.
4 ripe Beurre Bosc pears
1 cup raw sugar
1 cup water
2 cups wine
Juice of 1 lemon (½ only in summer) and 1 orange (you could peel some of the skin and add that too)
1-2 cinnamon sticks
3-4 cardamom pods
3 cm of fresh ginger cut into matchsticks (vary spices according to personal taste)
1 vanilla bean cut into thick matchsticks (summer only)
- Place all ingredients except pears in a saucepan large enough to hold pears and liquid snugly, and bring to simmering point to create a thin syrup.
- Peel pears, halve and cut out hard end of core.
- Add pears to syrup and simmer VERY gently until tender (can take 25-40 minutes, depending on size and ripeness). Gently turn pears occasionally to ensure entire flesh is infused with syrup.
- Remove pears using a slotted spoon and boil syrup to reduce by about half and thicken. Allow syrup to cool then strain over the pears.
- Serve at ROOM temperature with cream, ice-cream (but it might be too sweet) or, as Maggie prefers, au naturel.
- The summer syrup ingredients can also be used to poach peaches or nectarines but they only take about 10 minutes to cook, so the syrup should be simmered for at least 20 minutes before adding the fruit. Score the skin along the natural groove before cooking and it will come off easily once it has cooled.
The batch I made yesterday turned out to be a bit tart, probably because I used too much juice from a lemon off our tree. Fortunately, acidic fruit is one of the main reasons why the sweet-tooth fairy invented French vanilla ice-cream!