Recipe: Nadia Lim’s Mulled-Wine Poached Pears
Any pear variety can be poached, but Beurre Bosc, Packham, Winter Nellis, or Taylor’s Gold hold their shape the best.
Words and recipe: Extract from Nadia: A Seasonal Journal Photos: Rachael McKenna
I can’t resist a tender, aromatic, poached pear; I love them even more than fresh. Cooking pears gently in liquid — which you can flavour with citrus, vanilla, slices of ginger or even lemongrass (a favourite) — is delicious. And your kitchen will fill with a gorgeous perfume as they simmer.
Ideally, use pears that are just ripe, but still firm; poaching is such a forgiving cooking method that even under-ripe and ho-hum-tasting pears are still luscious. Beurre Bosc, Packham, Winter Nellis, and Taylor’s Gold are some varieties that poach best as they hold their shape.
Mulled-Wine Poached Pears
Makes: 6 serves
Prep time: 10 minutes
Cook time: 1½-2 hours
750ml bottle red wine
1½ cups water or orange juice with no pulp (fresh is best, but reconstituted will do)
2 cinnamon sticks
2-3 whole star anise
10 whole cloves
1 teaspoon vanilla extract or seeds from 1 vanilla pod
3 bay leaves
peel of 1 orange
peel of 1 lemon
1 cup sugar (brown or white)
6 just-ripe, slightly firm pears
In a medium or large pot, combine all ingredients, except the pears, and stir together. Peel pears as smoothly and neatly as you can with a vegetable peeler. Slice a tiny bit from the bottom of each pear (this is so they can stand upright when plated).
Put the pears, on their sides, in the pot — they should but just about fully submerged in liquid. Bring to a gentle boil, then reduce the heat and simmer gently, partially covered, for about 1½-2 hours, or until pears are tender and a deep ruby-red colour and the liquid is reduced slightly. Baste pears with the syrup a few times during cooking and check it is not reducing too fast as the pears may start burning. Turn them over at least once so that both sides can be fully submerged.
Carefully remove the fruit and set aside. Boil liquid for 5-10 minutes or until reduced and syrupy. Place pears in a dish and pour over the syrup. Serve warm or cold. Poached pears can be stored in the fridge in their syrup for up to a week. Remove from the fridge a couple of hours before serving, or re-warm them gently in their syrup in a pot.
WAYS TO USE POACHED PEARS
1. Serve as a simple, elegant dessert with mascarpone mixed with a little ground mixed spice or cinnamon or a scoop of vanilla-bean ice cream, a dollop of yoghurt (or coconut yoghurt) and a drizzle of syrup.
2. Slice or dice and serve on granola or muesli with yoghurt
3. Slice and serve with porridge, brown sugar and cream
4. Serve as part of a cheeseboard with blue cheese, crackers and candied walnuts
5. Slice on top of cakes
6. Serve alongside roast pork
7. Carefully cut in half and scoop out the core. Top with a cooked crumble mixture and place in a 180°C oven to warm through. Serve individual pear crumbles with your favourite ice cream
This is an extract from the autumn edition of Nadia: A Seasonal Journal. This quarterly publication offers on how to grow vegetables and fruit and how to cook for family and friends with homegrown and locally sourced produce.