The holiday season can be brutal but it does not have to be. I have good seasonal food all year round, and I keep it seasonal and simple also during these festivities. Poached pears are one of my favourite seasonal staple, both as a savoury side or sweet dessert they are so versatile. This version is fully loaded with lots of spice (no alcohol) and are best served with a lovely turkey breast or pork loin but they will go great with a piece of venison too.
PEARS – Belgium has a large pear grower and export history. You can easily find Conference and Doyenne du Comice pears known as “handpears”. St Remy and Geiser Wildeman are “cooking pears” and less common in our supermarkets. Regardless I just pick up the pear that looks the freshest on the market stall. I buy them quite firm and bruise free, that’s key for cooking them. The Comice is my favourite as it is soo juicy, and only needs a short poaching time.
SPICES – I decided not to use any wine or liquor in my delish poaching liquid as these days we tend to have an extra tipple anyway :-). This way the little ones can join in the fun too. Poaching liquid is like stock, you need to pack in the flavour to enhance whatever fruit or fish you are poaching. I used: cardamom pods, pink peppercorns, lemon zest, star anise, gloves and bay leaves. You can basically add what ever you got and like, I didn’t add any ginger nor cinnamon but those are good too.
POACHING – is a century old cooking technique where an ingredient is shallow or fully submerged in a liquid ( water, stock, milk or wine) and the food is cooked at a relatively low temperature. Making it very suitable for delicate food like eggs, fish and fruit. I love poaching fruit but also fish, it preserves that delightful daintiness.
TIP: Serve the pears with a little reduced poaching liquid, don’t throw the liquid out if any leftover, it is great warm wine starter for the next day!
My spice and poached pears with cranberries
- 1 pear per person; peeled, halved and cored ( leave the stem as decorative touch)
- 1 l water ( for 6 pears)
- 3 bay leaves
- 1 tablespoon pink peppercorns
- 1 lemon, zested
- 8 cardamom pods, smached
- 1 star anise
- 2 tablespoon palm or cane sugar
- 50 gr dried canberries
- Add to the water the sugar and spices, bring to a boil for a few minutes.
- Lower the heat to a simmering and add the pears
- Simmer for about 8 minutes, prick the pear with knifepoint to check if they are cooked. I like serving them with still a bit of a bite in them. Remove the pears, cover to keep warm and reserve.
- Return the liquid to the heat, boil till reduce by 1/2 and a more syrupy liquid develops.
- Sieve the liquid and add the dried cranberries, simmer for a few minutes.
- Plate the pears and spoon over the cranberries wit some liquid and serve.
on www.leeksandhighheels.com by Sandra Slawinski
Written and photographed by Sandra Slawinski without commercial deals. I used my plate from Dille & Kamille and sauce pan from Williams Sonoma.