Pears, anyone? Isn’t this a lovely dessert? No, we didn’t “poach” it as in take it illegally. We gently cooked the pears in red wine with sugar. It’s a very simple process yielding a dessert full of flavor although it does take a little time (about 30 – 40 minutes). Regardless, it is well worth it. Your family will thank you and ask why you never made (stole) this before.
Poaching is one of those words with 2 completely distinct meaning. One common meaning of poach is to take or appropriate something unfairly or illegally, i.e. poaching animals in the wild. Poach also means to gently cook some food in liquid. Depending upon how it is used and the meaning ascribed to it, when you tell someone you are poaching food you can have dramatically different reactions.
Poaching food is a culinary technique that has been around for ages. It’s very much “old school” technique and if you haven’t tried it, you should. It is a common way of cooking naturally tender, delicate foods like eggs, fruits, vegetables and fish. Poaching involves slowly cooking something in a iquid with a temperature ranging from 140 F to 180 F. At the correct temperature, the poaching liquid won’t show any visible signs of bubbling, although small bubbles may form at the bottom of the poaching vessel. The poaching liquid is generally a very flavorful liquid, such as a stock, a broth, a wine, a sweet syrup, a court bouillon infused with herbs, spices or anything the imagination can conceive, although butter and olive oil are also used. The list is virtually endless. Also, there are two types of culinary poaching technique. Deep poaching involves completely submerging the food in the liquid. With the deep poaching technique, the cooking liquid is not generally used after the cooking is completed. Shallow poaching, on the other hand, involves only part of the food being submerged in the liquid. In most instances of shallow poaching a cartouche (explanation and how to make found here) is used. The resulting liquid from shallow poaching (called cuisson) is highly flavorful and is frequently used to make a finished sauce. As you will see below, the poaching technique employed in this recipe is shallow poaching although a cartouche is not employed.
Now, if you haven’t noticed, Baby Lady & I don’t eat a lot of desserts. As such, there aren’t a lot of dessert recipes on the blog. It’s not that I don’t like sweets because I do. In fact, I have an incredible sweet tooth. Don’t put candy anywhere near me. When it comes to meals, however, Baby Lady & I prefer the savory side. Dessert simply packs on extra calories neither of us need and I prefer to use those saved calories from not eating dessert for wine to accompany the meal. When we entertain, however, a dessert is always served. This recipe is from one of those nights when we were entertaining guests. This is also a dessert I have been wanting to make for a while. It was a wonderful hit (as expected). Shallow poaching the pears resulted in a dessert with tender, beautifully colored and flavorful pears with a sauce that is sublime. You definitely should give this a try.
- 2 cups dry red wine, i.e. cabernet sauvignon
- 1 cup sugar
- 2 – 4 pears
- vanilla ice cream
- mint for garnish
Cut a small slice from the bottom of each of the pears so they will stand up straight in the saucepan without falling over.
Now, using a melon baller, gently core the pears.
Peel the pears. Because we were splitting the 2 pears among 4 persons, I removed the stems. If you want a prettier presentation with individual pears, keep the stem on.
Add the sugar and wine to a skillet large enough to hold the pears.
Bring the wine and sugar to a boil over medium-high heat, stirring well.
Once the mixture reaches a boil, cook for 3 more minutes.
Take the pan off the heat and gently place the pears, standing up, into the skillet. Do not splash the poaching liquid on you because liquids with this much sugar retain their heat incredibly well and are slightly viscous. As such, it’s like napalm and will stick to your skin!
Now, once the pears are added to the skillet, place the pan back on the stove over medium low heat and baste with the poaching liquid.
Continue to cook the pears over medium-low heat for 30 to 40 minutes basting the pears with the poaching liquid every 3 – 5 minutes.
The more often you baste the pears the deeper the color the pears will become.
I opted to baste the pears every 3 minutes. See how they are getting darker in color?
It’s getting darker.
After 30 – 40 minutes the liquid will be very syrupy. Turn off the heat and let the pears stand in the wine sauce until they reach room temperature.
Cut the pears in half lengthwise. Put a small scoop of ice cream on a plate, place the pear on top of the ice cream, pour a generous amount of sauce over the pear and the ice cream, garnish with a mint sprig. Serve
NOTES: There are so many different approaches to the poaching liquid. You can add cinnamon, clove, allspice or chocolate depending upon your own personal taste. If you don’t want the alcohol, you can use maple syrup, spices and water. The possibilities are endless. Let your imagination run wild. Your family and friends will love this approach to dessert.