Poached Pears, Easy French Elegance
Poached Pears are something I've made since I was a teenager. They are on every menu of just about every nice restaurant in France. They can be dressed up for dessert or made simply as a side for dinner. When you are planning a rich holiday meal, if you are like me, you struggle with something everyone will eat that is not too heavy and rich, too high carb or too sugary. Enter the Poached Pear! They are so easy and wow do they look like haute cuisine. These pears look like they just landed on your table from the land of wine, cheese and bread, aka France.
Poached Pears are a great way to introduce fruit into your menu, and did I mention they can be made ahead? They can be served, hot, cold or room temperature. I make mine the morning before I'll serve them and pop them in the refrigerator covered in plastic wrap in a pyrex dish. Then I transfer them to a serving platter and give each pear a tablespoon dose of syrup. I usually serve mine just a bit chilled removing them from the refrigerator about an hour before serving. This makes a nice counterpoint to hot meats, soups, etc. A tiny bit of brown is ok so don't stress, as you can see from mine below. Who has time to make these minutes before a huge holiday meal?
Poached Pears can be made with white or red wine. Red wine truly is magical as it turns the pears burgundy. Usually I think about the meat and wine I'll be serving. If I serve red, then the pears are red, if white then the pears are white. You can use any wine you wish but I prefer Chardonnay as it makes for a less sweet pear served with the main course. If you choose to serve them as a dessert you can place them with ice cream or drizzle them with caramel or chocolate. You might want to use a Reisling in the poaching liquid for a more sweet fruit. The sky is the limit.
What is Poaching?
Basically poaching is when you cook anything at a very low simmer in a liquid. Because the temperature is lower its great for delicate foods, like pears and it is very healthy because no fat is used. I guess this makes me a poacher? I just use a spoon not a rifle, lol.
4 Firm Pears
2 Cups Chardonnay Wine
3 1/2 Cups Water
2 Cups Granulated Sugar
1 Cinnamon Stick
1 Teaspoon Vanilla Extract
Zest of One Lemon
Juice of One Lemon
Select firm pears. Slice off the bottom of the pear to allow them to stand on a platter. Peel the pears from the stem downward making sure to retain the stem. Then place the pears in a bowl of water with the juice of one lemon to stop them turning brown.
Prepare a flat bottomed sauce pan large enough for the amount of pears you are cooking to be submerged in the liquid and not touch the bottom.
Over medium heat bring wine, water, sugar, lemon juice, lemon zest vanilla a the cinnamon stick to a very light simmer. Place each pear into the poaching liquid. Do not leave the pears unattended. Cook for about seven minutes not allowing the pears to over cook. Roll the pears gently with a wooden spoon about every minute. The fruit should be tender but not mushy. Remove the pears upright to a dish.
You can use the poaching liquid several times if you are preparing many pears and poaching them in batches.
Then crank the heat up and reduce the liquid's volume by at least half until the syrup coats the back of a spoon and is slightly viscous. Then if you are not serving within the hour, spoon a generous amount over the pears and save about a cup of the syrup for finishing. Store in the refrigerator for up to 8 hours, covering in plastic wrap.
Bon Appetit Y'all!