Things have been kind of crazy around here. I’ve been sloooooowly going through all the ceramics and linens and cookware I’ve accumulated over the years for my food photography stuff in order to put together a studio sale with the hopes of lightening the packing load for when we move next year. But my god it has been an exhausting process. And now, as I’m typing this, I’m sitting in the middle of our living room/my office, surrounded by piles of dishes and vintage flatware and aprons and feeling very scattered. But tomorrow! Tomorrow is the studio sale! So now that the tables are all set up and everything is priced (which is a mentally taxing task on its own), I’m really REALLY hoping that we can sell most of it and I don’t have to worry about what to do with it anymore. But that’s not really what I meant to talk to you about today…instead, we should be talking about pears! Or delicious and vibrant red wine poached pears, specifically.
I know Thanksgiving + the rest of the holiday season is coming very soon, so I wanted to make a dessert recipe that was easier than a pie but still had equal amounts of pizzazz. Because there is something fun and special about putting a dish on the table that makes everyone seated go “oooooohhhhhhh!” And these red wine poached pears will definitely do that. Because in addition to red wine, they’re *also* poached with frozen cherries, cranberries, anise, cinnamon, clove, honey, and vanilla bean. In short, they’re pretty darn tasty, and all that extra red fruit adds and even deeper hue to the poaching liquid, which then transfers to the pears.
You might notice that in the photos some pears are cut in half, and some are whole. You can make them either way, honestly. If you want the halves to be red, you need to cut the pear in half before you poach it. But if you want to be fancy and serve the pears plated individually sitting up vertically, you will need to poach them whole, and then cut the very bottom 1/2-inch off the pear so that it can easily stand upright without falling over. It just depends on your serving preference. Either way, I recommend serving them with a scoop of vanilla ice cream. It’s especially nice if you serve the pears warm with a drizzle of poaching liquid. You can also easily make them ahead of time, and store them in the poaching liquid overnight after it cools to room temperature, and then heat them back up on the stovetop before serving. Enjoy, my friends, and wish me luck with the sale!!
Red Wine and Cranberry Poached Pears
- 1 bottle dry red wine about 3 ¼ cups such as Cotes du Rhone, Pinot Noir, or Cabernet Sauvingon
- 1 cup water
- Juice from 2 oranges about ¾ cup
- Zest from 2 oranges
- ¾ cup cane sugar
- ¼ cup honey
- 1 cup organic frozen cranberries
- 1 cup organic frozen cherries
- ½ teaspoon whole cloves
- 1 cinnamon stick
- 1 vanilla bean cut in half lengthwise with centers scraped into the poaching liquid and beans tossed in as well
- 1 whole star anise
- 5 ripe but firm pears ideally Bosc
- ¼ cup cane sugar for thickening the poaching liquid
- Vanilla ice cream for serving (optional)
- Bring all the ingredients except the pears to a boil over medium high heat in a large pot. Reduce heat to medium low and simmer for 20 minutes, or until the cherries and cranberries have softened and started releasing their juices into the poaching liquid.
Towards the end of the simmering, peel the pears, keeping the stems on (they look nice!) You might notice that in the photos some pears are cut in half, and some are whole. You can make them either way, honestly. If you want the interior halves to be red and to serve them laying down on their sides, you need to cut the pear in half before you poach it. But if you want to be fancy and serve the pears plated individually standing up vertically, you will need to poach them whole, but cut the very bottom 1/2-inch off the pear so that the pear can easily stand upright without falling over for when you plate it later on. It just depends on your serving preference.
Add the pears to pot, cover, and simmer until tender when pierced with a fork, about 25 to 30 minutes, gently flipping the pears every 5 minutes with a wooden spoon.
- Turn off heat and allow the pears and poaching liquid to cool to room temperature. If you’re serving the same day, proceed to the next step. If you’re serving the next day, cover with the lid and place in the refrigerator overnight.
- Heat up the pot until the liquid is simmering. Remove the pears from the poaching liquid and set them aside.
- Strain the solids out of the poaching liquid and boil the remaining liquid with ¼ cup granulated sugar in a small saucepan until it thickens into a syrup-like consistency. Remove from heat.
- Plate the poached pears with a ladle of poaching liquid and a small scoop of vanilla ice cream. Enjoy immediately.