Poached Pears in Red OR White Wine

Recently we got some beautiful Bosc pears from the farm in our Springdell Super Fruit share.  

At the same time, I was home alone with the kids for a week while my other half flew overseas on business. After a week of karate, gymnastics, piano lessons, swimming lessons and everything else in between, I was a bit frazzled by the end of the Friday night bedtime routine. I decided to pour myself a glass of wine to celebrate my victory of making it to the end of the week with my sanity and unscathed kids. Does it count as drinking alone if your kids are home?  Perhaps if I cook using the wine, I’d feel less weird about it. Wait, I have the lovely pears on the counter!  I suddenly remembered a poached pear recipe I wanted to try and began flipping through my notes. This first recipe is adapted from Cooking the Farmers Market.

I took 2 of the biggest of the pears, cored peeled and halved them, placing them face down in a small non-reactive saucepan.

I poured in:

  • 1 1/4 cups of Riesling (And poured myself a chilled celebratory glass…  Julia Child would have approved, wouldn’t she?)
  • 1/4 cup sugar
  • 1 strip of lemon zest

I placed the pears and other ingredients in a small saucepan (big enough to allow all pears to face down in a single layer). I brought to a boil over medium high heat and then simmered until tender (about 35-40 minutes). The original recipe suggests placing a heatproof plate over the pears to keep them submerged as they cooked, instead I opted to push them down here and there, and flip them once in a while. It did leave tiny rings on the pear rounds, but nothing that is seen during the final product, and the taste was not affected. At the end of cooking time, I turned over the pears to get a better look and all was well, you can see on the edges the pears were getting a tiny bit translucent, and they were tender, signaling they were done! 

I whipped up 4 parts of heavy cream to 1 cup of confectioner’s sugar and let it melt into the cavity of the pear.  

I left the stem on which provided a little handle to help me navigate this dessert. It was light and delicious, like a fancy fruit cocktail!

A couple of days later, I decided to try a red wine poached pear, you know, for science.  This red one is simpler than it sounds, but takes time.  Allow for at least 3 hours of fridge time for this dessert (I started the day before and finished the next day). 

I took inspiration from Ellie Krieger’s recipe for this one. I began with:

  • 1 star anise (Ellie uses cloves and orange juice, check out her recipe if you’d like to try it)
  • 1 cinnamon stick
  • Several bosc pears (I used whatever looked like it would fit comfortably into the saucepan)

In a medium saucepan, I added the sugar, wine, cinnamon, star anise and lemon zest and began to bring it to a boil. Meanwhile, I peeled the pears, leaving the stems in tact and cutting the bottoms flat (to allow them to stand up later).  After bring things to a boil, I reduced the liquid to a simmer while I finished peeling the pears. 

Next, the pears went into the poaching liquid.  It’s ok that the rumps are sticking out like this, you’ll be turning them as they simmer to produce an even color. They simmered covered until “cooked but still firm” (about 15-20 minutes). I allowed the pan and liquid to cool a bit uncovered, and placed the whole thing (pears standing up in the liquid, covered) in the fridge for at least 3 but up to 24 hours. When getting ready to enjoy, remove the pears to a plate so that they can come to room temperature. Uncover the liquid in the pan , simmer and let it reduce to about half (I went a little longer) until it’s slightly syrupy (about 15 minutes, it’ll thicken up as it cools, too.)

Here are the pears out of the fridge, awaiting their drizzle of reduced sauce.  

And here they are drizzled with the reduced sauce. There was extra sauce left over, which I’ve been drizzling on salads, slivered raw pears with cheese, and even tomatoes. 

The cream I decided to try with this one were inspired from Aaron McCargo, Jr.’s recipe, whisking together:

  • 1 part heavy cream
  • 1 part confectioner’s sugar
  • 4 parts Mascarpone cheese

There you have it!  Whether red or white, I think you’ll enjoy this elegant dessert on your table!

About Jess

Jess Anderson is the creator of CSA|365 and is passionate about the local food movement. A busy mother of two, Jess loves keeping her family fed by honest local food. She is involved with the Westford Community Garden Working Group, Friends of Fat Moon, and is the current chair of the Westford Strawberries 'N Arts Festival.