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Wine-Poached Pears

From the book Mother’s Best by and
Yield 4 pears

Introduction

Red wine gives these pears — an essential component of Poached Pear, Rogue River Blue Cheese, and Hazelnut Salad — a complex flavor and lovely garnet hue. They’re impressive sliced and served in a salad, or you can turn them into a quick yet elegant dessert by drizzling them with syrup made from reducing the poaching liquid (see Note) and garnishing with whipped cream, crème fraîche, or vanilla ice cream. They’re perfect as a dessert for an elegant brunch.

Ingredients

cups inexpensive dry red wine
cups water
1 strip (2 inches) lemon zest, removed with a vegetable peeler
2 Tbsp. lemon juice (about 1 lemon)
1 cup granulated sugar
4 whole cloves
1 cinnamon stick
4 firm, ripe Bartlett or Anjou pears, peeled, stems intact

Steps

  1. Combine the red wine, water, lemon zest, lemon juice, sugar, cloves, and cinnamon stick in a narrow, deep saucepan that holds at least 3 quarts. Set the pot over medium-high heat and bring to a boil, whisking occasionally to dissolve the sugar. Reduce the heat and simmer for about 5 minutes.
  2. Stand the pears up in the liquid or lay them down so they are covered by the poaching liquid. Place a small heatproof plate on top to keep them submerged.
  3. Cover the pot and gently simmer the pears over low heat, turning them occasionally with tongs, until fork-tender, 10 to 15 minutes.
  4. Remove the pot from the heat and allow the pears to cool in the liquid. Remove the spices and lemon zest. Refrigerate the pears in the poaching liquid for up to 3 days. Ideally, let the pears come to room temperature before serving.

Notes

To reduce the poaching liquid to a syrup, bring it to a boil over medium-high heat in a shallow pan or sauté pan (the wider the pan, the more quickly liquids will reduce due to evaporation). Reduce the heat to low and continue to simmer until the liquid is reduced by three-quarters, 40 to 50 minutes. Allow the syrup to cool a bit.

To serve, let it drip off the end of a spoon as you move your hand back and forth over the salads or dessert pears, or pour it into a squeeze bottle and drizzle the syrup over. (Look for squeeze bottles at kitchen or restaurant-supply stores. They’re similar to ketchup and mustard bottles, and they give you more control so you can attempt interesting patterns and avoid blobs of sauce.)

This content is from the book Mother’s Best by Danielle Centoni and Lisa Schroeder.

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