Poached pears may sound like a dull dessert choice to the haters but I think they are the perfect way to end a heavy meal. You get that sweet kick of indulgence without feeling like you've overdone it, and can slightly pat yourself on the back because you're getting in your vitamins at the same time. I mean red wine is basically medicinal, isn't it?
This was a true delight of a pudding I was inspired to cook after seeing on a Rick Stein programme during a particularly grey lockdown eve. It celebrates (in my opinion) the best fruit at this time of year - pears. I have cooked a few poached pear recipes but none had quite the intensely delicious flavour of this one. The combination of the wine, dark berries and woody herbs stop it from being too sweet and create a liquor that is full of aromatics.
Once reduced down into the sauce it creates the most addictive syrupy juice that I could honestly not stop dipping my spoon into.
6 large or 8 small pears peeled - try to leave the stem!
1 orange (juice and zest)
750ml red wine
1 handful fennel seeds
3 bay leaves
3 rosemary sprigs
500g caster sugar
300g frozen forest fruit berries e.g. redcurrants or blackberries
Combine all the poaching liquor ingredients in a pan in a large, deep saucepan
Over a medium heat bring the liquid to the boil
Reduce the heat to low and simmer for 10 minutes
Add the pears and simmer over a low heat for about 40 minutes, make sure you turn about half way through (20 mins)
Lift the pears carefully from the liquid and set aside.
Simmer the liquor until the volume of liquid is reduced by at least half and is thicker in consistency, this could take at least 20 mins
Remove sauce from the pan and put into a pouring jug
Serve the pears with the sauce and single cream!