Getting a properly ripened pear is tricky at best so I have learned to accept the fact that I may need to invest a little extra time if I want to enjoy these sweet and tender treats.
We have a little pear tree in our yard that is finally starting to produce a functional harvest. Sometimes I get a little eager and pick them too early (I have issues with being patient). I have learned the hard way that this means they wont ever soften up to a point where they are worth eating fresh.
The cool thing about pears is that even if you get some that are not perfectly ripe, they can easily be fixed with a little sugar and spice and everything nice (which in this case is wine, because thats nice). Throw in a little heat and even under-ripe pears stand a chance of becoming something worth eating.
Poaching pears may sound difficult and fussy, but its a ridiculously easy process. This means its easy enough for a casual get together while elegant enough for a formal gathering. You can also prepare this in advance and then warm it up a little before serving. They can be served as-is, or topped with a little whipped cream or over a scoop of vanilla ice cream. The cooking time and heat will also break down the alcohol content so even your younger guests can enjoy some!
Riesling & Honey Poached Pears Recipe
- Difficulty: easier than getting a perfect pear
- 2 cups Riesling wine (choose a sweeter variety)
- 2 cups water
- 1/2 cup honey
- 1/2 cup granulated sugar
- 4-5 allspice berries
- 3-4 whole cloves
- 3-4 whole cardamom pods, cracked
- several pears, any variety, peeled, cored, and cut into quarters, or eighths if they are larger (avoid pears that are overly soft, those would be good for pear butter instead!)
Choose a pan that is deep enough to hold a layer of pears while allowing them to be submerged. The pears dont have to go in all together, but there should always be enough liquid to keep them submerged. If the liquid cooks down too much, you will need to add more of the poaching liquid.
Add all the ingredients except the pears to the pan. Turn the stove to high and heat until boiling, stirring until all the sugar has dissolved. Add the pears carefully, being sure not to crowd them, then turn the heat down to maintain a gentle simmer. Continue to cook the pears until they can be easily pierced with a fork, about 10 to 15 minutes.
Once the pears are done, remove them with a slotted spoon to a heatproof dish, and arrange in a single layer. Continue to cook down the remaining liquid until it is reduced to about half, roughly 2 1/2 cups. Pour the liquid over the pears and allow them to cool slightly before serving. If you are making this ahead of time, cover the pears and keep them refrigerated until ready to be served, then heat them until just warm. Enjoy!