Poached Pears

Now here's a dish that conjures up memories of my high school Home Economics class. They were the days when we learnt to make things like "vegetable Soup" and I would wonder "how come there's no olive oil in this dish?". I remember learning to make poached pears in class and thinking it was quite sophisticated. It had a French title and I kept thinking "this is what adults order in restaurants" and "how posh!". I suppose it still is considered a classic and it can be quite a light ending to a big dinner. I love the subtle flavours of the cinnamon and cloves. It almost has that "mulled wine in a front of a roaring fireplace with a bearskin rug" kind of warmth.

Pears are considered to be quite a versatile fruit and they do make a lot of guest appearances in a lot of dishes. Grated in bircher muesli (delicious!), baked in the oven as a pear tartin or even sliced and served with arugula and parmesan in a lively Italian salad. Depending on the types of pears you use, the poaching can take anywhere between 1-4 hours. Remember to poach and not to let the heat get too high. Otherwise kiss your pears goodbye and say hello to baby food!!!

RECIPE FOR POACHED PEARS

  • 4-6 pears, cleaned and peeled
  • 2 cups of water
  • 1 cup of caster sugar
  • 1 stick of cinammon
  • 4 cloves
  • half a vanilla bean
  • Muscat / Port / Your choice of red wine

METHOD
1. Create a light sugar syrup by combining the sugar and water. Place it over a very low heat and stir very gently. We want syrupy goodness here not sugary water! Allow the sugar to fully dissolve.
2. Add the cinammon, cloves and vanilla.
3. Mix in your choice of alcohol. I used a Muscat Rouge that was actually quite light in colour and it suited this dish perfectly.
4. Place the pears in the sauce pan and make sure they are immersed until the tips of the pears are just poking out.
5. Place on a low heat and let the ingredients do the work on the pears. Test them ocassionally to test their doneness. We want cooked, firm pears. Not mushy overdone baby food!!!
6. When cooled, serve with drizzled chocolate and double cream and lots of the beautiful syrup.
Enjoy!
Pete