My mother always made these poached pears on cold winter nights. I love to serve them following a heavy meal – the fruit provides a sweet and mellow finale to a feast, while the red wine sauce makes this a robust and comforting winter dessert.
Juice of 2 lemons
6 pears, ripe but firm
1 bottle hearty red wine
300 g brown sugar
Juice of 2 oranges
Seeds from 20 g cardamom pods (crack the pods to remove the seeds)
2 bay leaves
Crème fraîche, double cream or vanilla ice cream, to serve
Preparation: 10 minutes
Cooking: 40 minutes
Add half the lemon juice to a bowl large enough to hold all the pears.
Put 200 ml water and all the ingredients except for the pears into a large pan. Gradually bring to the boil over a medium heat, stirring to ensure that the sugar dissolves completely. Once the poaching liquid is boiling, reduce the heat and allow to gently bubble away for 5 minutes, so that the alcohol evaporates.
Peel the pears (leaving the stems on), and trim 5 mm from the bottom of each one so that it can stand up. Put each prepared pear in the bowl of lemon juice as you go, coating it in the juice to stop it turning brown.
Holding each one by its stem, gently lower the pears into the poaching liquid, then add the bowlful of lemon juice and bring the liquid to a simmer. Cover the pears with a sheet of baking parchment, pushing it down flat to the level of the liquid and pears. Simmer for 20 minutes. Remove the parchment paper and transfer the cooked pears to a plate, standing them upright on their trimmed base. Set to one side.
Continue to simmer the poaching liquid, uncovered, for another 15 minutes, or until the liquid has reduced by half. Strain the poaching liquid through a sieve, discarding the cardamon seeds and bay leaves, and then return it to the pan. Add the pears to the pan and coat them in the thickened sauce.
Serve the pears warm. Place a tablespoon of your cream of choice in the centre of each serving bowl, before standing the pear on the dollop and drizzling with some of the sauce.
This recipe is an extract from A House Party in Tuscany by Amber Guinness.
A House Party in Tuscany by Amber Guinness is available now.
May 26, 2022