Monday, March 4, 2013

Simple & Delicious: Pears poached in red wine

This is a simple, elegant and nearly sugar-free dessert, perfect for a French-inspired meal. Also relatively inexpensive, so it can serve as an elegant and frugal end to a meal with friends.

Pears are a delicious alternative to apples and loaded with good-for-you food value. They contain lots of natural fiber, lots of vitamin C (10% RDA) and vitamin K (8%), and no fat or cholesterol. They are carbo-loaded, but complex carbs, which means they keep you feeling fuller longer. They are also low glycemic. All good news.

The recipe is very easy, as I said. This is usually served cold, so it can be made well ahead of time, chilled, and served with an anglais sauce, light whipped cream or creme fraiche, or a simpler cherry or berry coulis, as well as the cooking juice itself. Serve with high cocoa content chocolate squares.

Peel 4 ripe pears, leaving the stem intact.

In a saucepan, lay the pears on their sides so they fit without smooshing or too much extra space.

Add the following to the pan:
  • one packet vanilla sugar
  • one vanilla bean, split in half
  • one sprig fresh rosemary or thyme (use thyme with cinnamon)
  • four black peppercorns (or mixed colors)
  • four cloves or a cinnamon stick (or equivalent ground version)
  • 2 Tbsps fresh lemon juice (I usually just juice one lemon)
  • 1 bottle good red wine (not sweet!--choose a Beaujolais to Cabernet or mixed red)
Cover and raise to simmer. Once simmering, let cook for 30 minutes, turning every ten minutes or so; ready when the pears are tender to forks. After, let sit/cool, then set one pear in each bowl, add cooking juice, and chill.

Vanilla sugar can be bought in packets at specialty cooking shops, or places that sell international foods. Or you can use this simple recipe from Alton Brown (takes a couple weeks, however):

Cezanne's three pears, just as a treat, as simple and gorgeous as the poached kind.

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