I have an insatiable appetite for pears this time of year. I eat them sliced on my oatmeal, tossed into crisps, and just eaten solo. All sorts of pears make me happy, but one in particular is my favorite.... Warrens. There is something magically perfect about the Warrens - their flesh is juicy, silky, sweet, and firm all at the same time.
I've been wanting to share a poached pear recipe for a while now and with Thanksgiving fast approaching, I can imagine these pears as a fresh and light option for ending the day's feast. When I got a precious box of Frog Hollow Warrens, I knew I had to use something special for poaching liquid - it would be a shame to overpower the luscious pear-ness of the fruit. Lillet, an aperitif of Bordeaux wines and citrus liqueurs, and its light fruity fragrance seemed a decadent, yet subtle choice.
Lillet - on the rocks with a generous orange twist - is one of my favorite summer cocktails. Here, those sunny flavors meld with the perfect fall pear and I have to tell you... it's damned good!
- 1 bottle of White Lillet ( 3 cups)
- juice and zest of one Valencia orange
- 2 small tangerines or 8 kumquats (sliced thin, with the peels still on)
- 8 black peppercorns
- 10 sprigs thyme, fresh or dry
- 2 cups water
- 3/4 cup sugar
- 4 just-ripe Warren Pears (others pears, like D'Anjou or Bosc would also work in this recipe)
- parchment paper
Place all ingredients, except the pears, into a 4 quart saucepan. Heat liquid over medium high heat for a few minutes until sugar dissolves.
In the meantime, peel your pears and cut a bit off the bottom of each pear to make it flat and able to stand without falling. (Come serving time, you will appreciate a pear that can stand up.) Keep the stems intact.
Submerge the peeled pears in the poaching liquid and return to a simmer. Cut out a circle of parchment to cover the pears and the liquid. Place a plate or small pot lid over the parchment-covered pears to keep them submerged. If your pears are not totally covered by liquid, you may want to add a bit more water or just rotate the pears periodically to insure even cooking.
Simmer covered pears for 30 minutes. ( If your pears are a little under-ripe, you may want to add 10 or so minutes of cooking time. If the pears are very ripe, 20 minutes of poaching could be enough.) To test for doneness, a sharp knife should be able to pierce the pear without effort. Remove pears from the stove top. Let pears sit covered and submerged in poaching liquid for another 15-30 minute before serving.
Place each pear in a small pretty bowl or glass. Strain poaching liquid and keep all the goodies, setting them aside for garnish. Pour some of the strained liquid over each pear. Add a couple of the poached citrus slices, a twig of two of thyme, and some orange zest to each bowl.
If you want to serve the pears later, place them in their cooking liquid, in the fridge for up to a day. The poached pears are delicious served cool as well as warm.
makes 4 large servings (or if you want this to be a smaller dessert, and enough to feed eight, you can cut the pears in half before serving)
Happy Thanksgiving Everyone!