something(s) constructive pt 2

15/02/2010

pears poached in red wine

4-6 (hard, unripe) pears
one bottle red wine (cheap, i used merlot)
1.5-2 mugs dark sticky brown sugar
one cinnamon stick, broken in two
6-10 cloves
4 cardamom pods
1-3 slices of lemon

serves 4-6

put everything apart from the pears into a small/medium saucepan. the pot should be big enough to hold the six pears and the wine but small enough so that the pears are completely covered at all times. turn hob onto a medium heat.

while this mixture is warming slice the bottom off the pears and core it from below (take out just enough so the pips and nasty bits are gone: a cone about 3cm in diameter and 5cm high. ish). peel the pears all the way to the stalk, leaving the stalk on makes it prettier and also easier to deal with when cooking.

when all the sugar has dissolved put the pears into the pot. they will float to the top of the liquid, the best way I found to keep them submerged was the lid of a much smaller pot: it pushes the pears down; leaves plenty of room around the edge for steam to escape; and the handle makes it easy to lift off. all-in-all very clever.

let boil for 25-30 mins, moving the pears around every so often to ensure even cooking/absorption of the lovely flavours. the longer the pears are left the more flavour they get but the mushier they become.

take the pears out, put in a baking dish, cover with aluminium foil and put in a warm (80C) oven to keep.

Here’s the tricky bit. You want to boil the sauce away to leave a syrup. This can go very wrong very fast. Stop boiling too soon and you have a watery liquid, leave it too long and you have a boiled sweet at the bottom of the pot.

The liquid should boil for quite a while and reduce to about two mugs worth of syrup. When you remove it, it should still pour like water but as it cools it will gradually get thicker.

Place one pear upright on each plate with the sauce around, beside or poured over the pear. A chocolate sauce would be quick and easy to make while the syrup is reducing or cooling; vanilla ice cream would also work a treat.

thoughts/criticisms/suggestions welcome

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