Basic Poached Pears
Total Time: 40
Yield: 6 servings
Ingredients:2 cups red wine (Zinfandel, Cabernet Sauvignon, or Merlot)
1/2 cup sugar
1 vanilla bean, cut in half lengthwise
1 whole cinnamon stick
Zest and juice of 1 orange
Zest of 1 lemon
1 whole bay leaf
6 ripe pears, stems on
Garnish: raspberries (optional)
In a medium saucepan over medium heat, combine wine, sugar, vanilla bean, cinnamon stick, orange zest and juice, lemon zest, and bay leaf. Stir together until sugar dissolves.
Leaving stems intact, peel pears carefully. Cut 1/4 inch off the bottom of each pear (so that pears can stand upright for serving). Add pears to liquid. Bring mixture to a boil; reduce to a simmer and cook, stirring gently, until a paring knife pierces pears easily, about 15 minutes. Remove from heat and let cool in liquid.
When cool, remove pears from liquid with a slotted spoon and place in a small container. Cover and refrigerate until chilled through, about 2 hours. Pour poaching liquid through a sieve set over a second saucepan. Discard solids. Bring liquid to a boil and cook until reduced to a thick syrup, about 20 minutes. Let cool to room temperature.
When ready to serve, arrange pears on a platter or individual plates and drizzle poaching liquid over them. Garnish with raspberries if desired.