Is there anything more elegant than a red wine poached pear? One of my favorite things to do ahead, poached pears can begin a meal in a tasty salad or as an elegant dessert. They are easy to make and impressive on the plate.
The only challenge is achieving that intense burgundy color. Too often the bottle of wine I use lacks the punch to give the pears the necessary vibrancy and richness to make everyone around my table say “wow.”
I’ve bought bottles of fruity syrah that have done the trick, but it’s always a bit of gamble and I’ve long wanted a little more consistency. Enter the beet. I stumbled across this recipe for Scarlet Poached Pears yesterday.
Oh, how I wish this was my eureka moment. It makes so much sense. Of all the vegetables, beets have the most wonderful red color and anyone who has ever worked with them knows their power to turn everything they come in contact with red. A few slices of beets added to your poaching liquid provides a natural and intense burst of color in your pears without any beet taste (your safe, beet haters).
I couldn’t wait to try this ingenious tip out and threw a couple slices of beet into my recipe for poached pears this morning. The result? Well, I’ll let the pictures do the talking, but I’d be happy to serve these to any guests.
The poached pear recipe below makes pears that hug the line between savory and sweet. Toss sliced poached pears with mixed greens, toasted walnuts, and some crumbles of pungent blue cheese to make a classy first course. Paired with creme anglaise (the recipe follows), these poached peare provide a satisfying, yet not heavy, end to a meal.
For a little added dessert showmanship, reduce the poaching liquid down to a syrup. Pour the syrup into a squeeze bottle and place a few dots around your creme anglaise. Drag a toothpick through the middle of the sauce drops to form tiny hearts. Look at you getting all fancy! Bon appetit.
Poached Pears with Crème Anglaise –Printer Friendly Recipe
I used tiny Seckel pears for this recipe, because they are small and cute. If you’d like to use larger pears, I recommend Anjou or Bartlett. Be sure to cut them in half and core them before poaching. Whatever pear you use, purchase pears that are just under ripe otherwise they’ll be mushy by the time you finish poaching.
While the recipe for the poaching liquid is mine, inspiration for using the beets came from the “Scarlet Poached Beets” recipe featured on Epicurious.com.
For the pears:
1 bottle dry red wine
Juice from one orange
2 medium beets, peeled and thinly sliced
4 whole star anise
1 cinnamon stick
6 whole cloves
¼ cup granulated sugar
3 Anjou or Bartlett pears, peeled, halved, and cored or 6 Seckel pears, peeled
For the crème anglaise:
6 egg yolks
¼ cup granulated sugar
2 cups whole milk
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
In a large saucepan over medium heat, combine the red wine, fresh orange juice, beets, star anise, cinnamon stick, whole cloves, and sugar and bring to a simmer. Stir the mixture until the sugar dissolves. Simmer the wine mixture for five minutes before adding in the pear halves. Add more wine if needed to cover the pears. Reduce the heat to medium-low and poach the pear halves for 45 minutes or until they are tender. Turn the pear halves occasionally to ensure equal cooking. Once tender, remove the pear halves from the poaching liquid and set them aside to cool. Note: If not serving immediately, the pear halves can be left in the poaching liquid and refrigerated until ready to serve.
To make the crème anglaise, whisk together the egg yolks and sugar in a medium bowl. Set aside. Prepare an ice water bath in a large bowl. Stir together the milk and vanilla in a small saucepan until small bubbles form around the edges of the pan. Remove the saucepan from the heat and pour a little of the hot milk mixture into the eggs and sugar. Whisk to combine before pouring the egg mixture into the saucepan with the milk. Cook over medium-low heat, whisking constantly until the sauce thickens and reaches a temperature of 175 degrees.
Immediately remove the sauce from the heat and strain the sauce into a metal bowl. Place the metal bowl into the ice water bath and stir gently until the sauce has cooled. Refrigerate the sauce until ready to serve.
Reduce the poaching liquid to make flavorful syrup, if desired. Serve the poached pears atop the crème anglaise and drizzle with the poaching syrup, if using.