02 December 2009

slinging hash: poached pears

For Thanksgiving dessert, I usually serve pumpkin pie and pears baked in red wine. Pie, because I like it, and pears, because the majority of my family DOES NOT LIKE PIE. While I try to steer clear of anything smacking of jingoistic, I believe this to be un-American, but I am willing to overlook it, because I love them.

This year, although my Thanksgiving preparations proceeded with unprecedented smoothness, not having a double oven, I was crunched for oven space, and wanted to go to sleep. This made baking the  pears problematic, so I decided to poach them.

It's extremely simple to poach fruit, and pears are especially delicious prepared this way; these are the two criteria I look for in most things I cook. I like Bosc pears best for this, because they're firm fleshed, and hold their shape well. You prepare a flavorful liquid, add some spices, bring it to a boil, immerse cut fruit, and simmer for a spell.

Poached pears have the added advantage of being able to sit on the stove top overnight with no ill effect, a distinct advantage if like me, you were tight on refrigerator space on Thanksgiving eve. 

In a last minute fit of derring-do, because I'd also made these for the kids, I decided to serve the pears as an appetizer, with blue cheese, which is something David and I used to eat at La Bouillabaisse, on Atlantic Avenue in Brooklyn. As we reminisced about these pears, David reminded me of the last time we ate there, shortly before we moved to New Jersey, when, eight months pregnant with Sarah, I freaked the wait staff out by having a glass of wine with dinner. That was fun.

Oh, my, these are good.

Poached pears
Adapted from The Cook's Bible

4 cups water
2 cups white wine
1 cup sugar
2 bay leaves
1 strip orange rind
1 piece of vanilla bean
a few sprigs of rosemary
handful of crushed black peppercorns

3 pounds of Bosc pears
Blue cheese (I like gorgonzola dolce) 

Combine the ingredients for the poaching liquid in a saucepan large enough to hold the fruit. Bring to a boil, and turn heat down to a simmer.

Peel, halve and core the pears, add to the poaching liquid. Simmer for about 25 minutes, until pears are tender.

Prior to serving, remove pears from liquid and reduce over medium-high heat by about half. Serve with a bit of syrup, and a wedge of blue cheese

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