by Heather Harris Brady
I think of poached pears as the little black dress of desserts, appropriate at the end of nearly every meal. If you want to be healthy, virtuous and all you can top them with fresh berries or you can be me – with ice cream and chocolate sauce. (Use my raspberry ribbon ice cream for a melba!) Once you’ve made them they’ll wait patiently in the refrigerator, giving you the means to throw together an amazing dessert in a few minutes. I think they would probably be nice in a composed salad with blue cheese – I need to try that!
I like to poach them in wine, but you can use a simple syrup if you prefer. Here I used a wine we found too sweet to drink, but it was perfect for the pears. After reducing the poaching liquid you could throw in dash of brandy or pear eau de vie to be extra-fancy.
As for the pears I am unapologetically pro-Barlett myself, but you can use any pear you like. Note: I halved this recipe, so the pictures only show two servings in progress.
Poached Pears, Four generous servings
- Four well-shaped pears, nearly ripe but still firm
- 3 c. white wine or simple syrup
- Fresh lemon peel, three-four large pieces
- Toppings of your choice: berries, ice cream, nice chocolate sauce
Put your wine or simple syrup in a saucepan over medium heat. Add the lemon peel. Let it come to a low boil while you work on the fruit.
Slice off the bottoms and peel the pears, retaining the shape as best you can. You can also leave on the stem if you like.
Remove the core, using a melon baller or rounded measuring spoon. I’ve found that rounded aluminum teaspoons work great.
Add the pears to the pan. Simmer them gently for about 30 minutes until they are just tender.
If you have a small deep pan, great. I don’t so I made do, turning the pears halfway through. Remove the pears from the pan and quickly reduce the syrup down by half.
Put the pears in a container and cover them with the reduced syrup. Store them in the refrigerator until you’re ready to use them, preferably overnight.
When you’re ready to serve, plate them up. I like to fill the hollows with ice cream and drizzle a nice chocolate sauce over the top. Sometimes I add a few spoons of syrup to the bowl too. You can leave them whole:
Or halve them:
They’re delicious either way. And, I might add, another great dessert for Valentine’s Day.