Dessert is our house is normally a piece of fruit, perhaps with some cheese, and, in winter, some mixed nuts in their shells. This is why you will not find very many desserts featured on this blog. But there is at least one prepared dessert that makes its way on to our table in the colder months: pere al vino rosso, or pears poached in mulled red wine. The dish is extremely easy to make, but the result is rather beautiful—and elegant enough for an ‘important’ dinner.
You peel your pears—one per serving—leaving on the stem if the pear has one. Then place them snugly in a saucepan with just enough room to hold the pears in a single layer. Pour on about half a bottle of red wine (or more, depending on the size of the pan and how many pears you have). Ideally, the wine should cover the pears, but if not, you always turn the pears as they cook. Then add sugar—quite a bit of sugar, as you want to create a syrup: about 100g (one cup) or more for 4 pears. Add, too, a stick of cinnamon and some cloves, and if you like, some lemon or orange zest.
Allow the pears to simmer for about 20 minutes, turning them if need be so that they cook and color evenly, until they are quite tender but not falling apart. (You can use a paring knife to check if they are done.) Remove the pears onto a shallow serving bowl or plate, and continue to simmer the wine until has reduced into a syrupy consistency, then strain and pour over the pears. Allow the pears and their sauce to cool before serving.
NOTES: This is a great solution for pears that may not be particularly flavorful by themselves. Use pears that are just ripe or slightly underripe. Very ripe pears will turn to mush. The choice of wine is yours, but personally I enjoy a full-bodied wine for this purpose. Of course, I would not break out your most expensive vintage. In fact, this is a good way to use some already opened bottle that is no longer quite fit to drink.
Some people like to accompany these pears with a bit of whipped cream or some dried fruits, but personally I think that they are perfect served alone, just as they are.
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