Red Wine Poached Pears
Nature does it best! I love the simplicity of this dessert. The smooth lines of the pear, make me think of long, meandering trails in the rain soaked woods, where time seems unimportant. This time of year tends to be hectic and this dessert is a subtle reminder that no matter how crazy and complicated life can be, we are inextricably tied to the land, bound to the ebb and flow of the days, mere witnesses to the coming and going, and all we really have to do is breathe. Top that with the fact that they have been swimming in booze for over twenty four hours. I've found perfect peace!Note: I opted to thicken the red wine reduction with a slurry. If you also prefer a syrup that clings to the pears, whisk two teaspoons of cornstarch into a small amount of water until it dissolves. Then, add the mixture to the simmering red wine reduction and stir. Within minutes, you'll have a thick, sticky sauce, infused with the flavors of the season– cinnamon, cloves, and star anise! Serve the pears on their own or with a scoop of vanilla gelato or a dollap of mascarpone whipped cream. I can't think of a better way to round out a meal!
For the Pears
- 400 ml red wine (1 1/2 cups)
- 300 ml water (1 1/4 cups)
- 200 grams sugar (1 cup)
- 2 meyer lemons, juiced
- 2 cinnamon sticks
- 3 cloves
- 2 star anise
- 4 firm ripe pears, such as Bosc
- Combine red wine, water, sugar, and the lemon juice in a small pot. Add the cinnamon, cloves and star anise, and bring to a boil.
- Peel the pears using long even strokes and leave the stem intact.
- Cut the bottom off so the pears can stand upright.
- Place the pears in the poaching liquid. Cover and simmer for 30 minutes, turning every five minutes to ensure the color is even, until pears are fork tender, yet still firm.
- Remove from heat and let pears cool in the poaching liquid until they come to room temperature. Continue to rotate the pears as they cool. Refrigerate overnight, turning a couple of times for even coloration.
- Remove pears from the pot and heat the poaching liquid over medium heat. Simmer uncovered until the liquid reduces by half. Be patient. This takes between 15-20 minutes. Watch it carefully and stir often. Between the sugar and the wine, it can burn easily. (Unfortunately, I speak from experience).
- Remove from heat and strain the syrup.
- Plate the pears, drizzle with syrup and you're ready to serve!