Spiced Poached Pears
Who says dessert must be fattening? Spiced Poached Pears in red wine is an excellent way to offer your guests a light, refreshing and satisfying dessert without all the calories! This easy poached pear recipe uses fresh pears infused in a poaching liquid of red wine, spices (allspice, cloves, cinnamon) and vanilla. Add some dried fruit and a scoop of Marscapone, and you’ve got an elegant and delicious dessert!
What is Poaching?
Poaching is a wet-method of cooking, where food is cooked in liquid for a short amount of time. For instance, poached eggs are simmered in hot water on the stove top for 3-5 minutes. Poaching is the opposite of braising, where food is cooked for a longer period of time in liquid.
Best Pears for Poaching
Ripe winter pears hold their shape best and the best varieties are Bosc, Anjou and Bartlett. Having said that, you can use any ripe pear or use canned; however, canned pears tend to disintegrate faster than ripe pears.
How to Ripen Pears
Select a pear that is semi-firm to the touch; it should give just a little when you lightly squeeze it. If you purchase fruit that isn’t quite ripe, simply place the pears in a paper sack for a day. This “brown-bag” method will ripen them to the perfect consistency for poaching!
How to Poach Pears
A little prep work is necessary to poach pears, but after that, it’s super easy!
- Use a sharp paring knife and gently remove the skin; create a flat base for the pear to stand
- Immediately sprinkle fresh lemon juice over the pears. This prevents the fruit from browning (through oxidation) and helps retain a bright color.
- The temperature of the poaching liquid can be around 160º-205ºF (below 212ºF, which is boiling)
- Simmer the fruit for 15-25 minutes; occasionally drizzle the spice infused liquid over the top of the pears
- Place pears in individual serving bowls; drizzle poaching liquid over pears and garnish with dried fruit and a scoop of marscapone
Which Pears are Sweetest?
While all pears are naturally sweet, some are sweeter than others. The sweetest pear is Comice. Bartlett, Starkrimson and Concord follow in a second group of being very sweet and juicy; however, the Concorde is sweet and crisp. The next group includes the Anjou, Bosc and Seckel. This group is relatively sweet; the Bosc and Seckel are more crisp than juicy. The Forelle pear is the least sweet and somewhat crispy.
Asian pears are rounder than the varieties mentioned above and are much more crispy and crunchy, like an apple. For this reason, salads often feature Asian pears,usually accompanied with bleu or Gorgonzola cheese and walnuts.
The liquids used in the poaching process vary. Some recipes use red or white wine, while others use apple cider or apple juice. White grape juice is another poaching liquid that works well.
Another recipe you might like is peach cobbler!