I love eating ripe pears straight out of the fruit bowl, but I always seem to miss the perfect eating window. They’re rock-hard and green for ages, and then it always seems that while I’m asleep, it’s the time they become slightly soft, intensely fragrant, full of juice and ready to eat all the way down to the core. When I wake up, invariably they look all tempting, golden and glowing, but they hide a Dali-esque melted underside, brown, squishy and sad. Sometimes they even take the whole fruit bowl down with them, spontaneously fermenting their escaping juices and making the kitchen smell like a cider factory.
So I tend to buy firm pears. As soon as they start to feel a little tender at the stem, into the pot they go.
Pears poached in red wine
- 4 firm pears, peeled with stems remaining
- 1 cinnamon quill
- 2 cloves
- 1 star anise pod
- 250ml rich red wine (eg. Aussie Shiraz)
- 250ml water
- 1/4 cup raw sugar
Plonk everything in an ovenproof pot with a lid, and bake in a 170 °C (340F) for an hour, turning once. Yes, that’s it. Serve warm with double cream and a drizzle of golden syrup.
If you are so inclined, you may want to remove the pears and boil down the juice a little, but this isn’t really necessary.
The wine and the spices can easily be changed – you could consider using other spices like licorice root, pepper, mace. I’ve made some before with a Chardonnay base, with orange rind, ginger and turmeric root, garnished with basil. Or perhaps if you like them really sweet, then poach the pears in Sauternes with all spice berries, and garnish with candied peel.