Second only to the avocado, the pear has the finest window between cast-iron hardness and baby food mush. Poaching is a great way to make a bowl of fruity jawbreakers into something truly delectable. Booze is a great flavour enhancer here and you can pick your poison – I’ve made a few suggestions below. Serve with creme fraiche, or ice cream, or just steal cold slices straight out of the fridge.
I will be serving these at my Harvest Tasting Menu on October 14th and 21st with a bay leaf flavoured ice cream.
- 6 pears, ideally not quite ripe
- 1 bottle white wine (eg riesling) OR red wine (eg cabernet sauvignon)
- 125g sugar
- 2-3 pieces of orange or lemon peel
- 4 cardamom pods or 1tsp whole peppercorns
- 1 sprig rosemary or 2 bay leaves
- Generous pinch of nutmeg or mace
- 1 small piece of cinnamon
- 1 thumb sized piece of ginger, diced
Preheat oven to 180C. Peel the pears and cut them in half. Scoop out the cores of the pears with a melon baller or a teaspoon. Discard the cores and place the pear halves into a saucepan of cold water with a squeeze of lemon juice (to stop them going brown). In a separate saucepan, make the poaching liquor by combining wine, sugar and all the herbs and spices and bring to the boil. Stir to ensure sugar has dissolved then remove from heat. Drain pears and transfer them to the poaching liqueur.
Cut a circle of parchment the same size as saucepan and put it over the top of the pears to keep them submerged. Transfer to the oven and cook until the pears are soft enough that a sharp knife can pierce them with little to no resistance. Depending on the pears, this can take from as little as 20 minutes to as long as an hour, so check regularly. Remove from poaching liqueur. Poached pears are delicious hot or cold, and will keep in the fridge for up to ten days.
If you wish, you can heat the poaching liqueur over a very low flame until has reduced by half. This syrup can be drizzled over the pears to serve.