Poached pears aren't just for dessert. On a Wildteller, they feature as one of the seasonal sides, with a daub of cranberry sauce in their center. Make a few extra and you have a light dessert (if you still have room for dessert. Otherwise, breakfast.)
In general, the flavouring opportunities are vast. You can add any number of spices, and use lots of different poaching liquids. Cinnamon sticks, star anise, ginger, cloves and any other warm baking spice would be a nice addition to the poaching liquid. Maybe throw in a twig of rosemary or thyme if you are hankering for something herbal. As for poaching liquid, anything goes. You can use all manner of wines and spirits, dark beers and ciders, juice. Or you could throw in a tea bag and infuse the liquid with something like Earl Grey.
The pears in this recipe aren't intended as dessert, so there is very little sugar in the poaching liquid and the flavouring is rather plain. A blank canvas, if you will.
In German, these pears have the regal name of Kaiser Alexander, while in Canada they are the Bosc variety.
4 large Kaiser Alexander pears
60 g sugar
Prepare the pears. Cut them in half, leaving the stem intact on one side. Carefully carve out the stringy middle and core, still keeping the stem, if desired. Then, carefully peel them.
Use a medium sauté pan with a lid. Pour in enough water to reach halfway up the sides of the pan, then turn the heat to medium and add the sugar. Stir until the sugar is dissolved, then add the cinnamon stick.
Once the water is simmering, add the pears, making sure that they are covered completely by liquid. If not, simply top up with water.
Keep the liquid at a low simmer and reduce heat if it is bubbling violently. You can put the lid on, leaving a crack for some steam to escape.
Test your pears after about 12 minutes. Stick them with a paring knife and see if they slide right off. If they do, they're ready, if not, cook them a little longer.
- Although it may seem logical to peel the pears before cutting them, I find that it is easier to hold them during the coring with the skin still on.
- I like the look of the stem so I leave it intact, but it can also be removed.
- If you are making pears only for dessert, you can double the sugar and experiment with flavours and liquids (with sweet wines or ciders, use the reduced amount of sugar).