Pears are one of the world’s most ancient cultivated fruits. There are over 3,000 known pear varieties grown around the world in temperate zones (peak season is July through January), each with a distinctive character, texture, and flavor.
The most popular and recognizable pears are the yellow Bartlett, with a true pear shape, followed by the elegant, egg-shaped Anjou, (also called d’Anjou), the graceful Bosc, pudgy Comice, and tiniest Forelle.
Pears poached in red wine or Port make an elegant-but-simple dessert, but this sweeter method of poaching in white wine is a pleasant alternative.
Serve the pears with Italian mascarpone, tangy crème fraîche, blue cheese, or lemon curd whipped cream. You’ll find recipes like this in my cookbook Favorite Flavors of Ireland; signed copies available at www.irishcook.com.
POACHED PEARS IN SPICED HONEY WINE
For the Pears
- 2 cups dry white wine
- 1/4 cup honey
- 1 1/2 cups sugar
- 1 1/2 tablespoons lemon juice
- 3 whole cloves
- 3 cinnamon sticks
- 1 large piece orange peel
- 6 Bartlett or Anjou pears, peeled
For the Whipped Cream
- 2 cups heavy (whipping) cream
- 2-3 tablespoons prepared lemon curd
1. In a saucepan large enough to hold the pears, combine the wine, honey, sugar, lemon juice, cloves, cinnamon, and orange peel. Bring gently to a boil, and then reduce heat to low and simmer for 20 minutes.
2. Add the pears, cover, and simmer for 25-30 minutes more, or until the pears are tender when pierced with the tip of a knife. Remove from the heat, and let the pears cool in the syrup. Serve at room temperature or cold with lemon curd whipped cream.
3. To make the whipped cream, beat cream with an electric mixer until soft peaks form. Add the lemon curd and whip for 1 minute more, or until blended.
Margaret M. Johnson is the author eleven Irish cookbooks, most recently Favorite Flavors of Ireland, Christmas Flavors of Ireland, and Flavors of Ireland. For further details, visit her website www.irishcook.com.