A Case for Poaching Pears

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I have a theory that if you are writing down a recipe, you better write it down the first time. Or by the time you get around to writing it down, you've played around with the original one so many times that you've completely lost the plot.

This is my case for poaching pears. The first time I poached pears, I measured water, I measured wine, I measure orange juice, I counted cinnamon sticks, I basically had everything in hand. These days I throw everything in together in saucepan and pray it does the job. Almost always it does, which goes to prove, yes, sometimes you don't have to be that perfect and creepily crazy about everything.

Poached pears are insanely simple to make and very difficult to go wrong.

I usually poach atleast 4 pears in one go. I don't mind the extra ones I have after using in a cake or tart cos they are so darn good they go with everything. The other day I simply rolled them up in bread dough with some almond frangipane and baked and it tasted sooo good. Then there was the day I sliced them up and had it on toast with some bleu cheese and syrup.

Before I forget, most people have poached pears with cream/ice cream/mascarpone. Makes for a simple, yet elegant dessert. And looks quite fancy too.

How to make Poached Pears

You will need

4 pears
500 ml liquid
1/2 cup sugar
Spices & flavourings of Choice

  1. Peel the pears. You can core them before or after the poaching. If you are looking at a standalone poached pear, core later to get the stem intact, else to use in a cake/tart core rightaway.
  2. Use saucepan wide enough to hold the pears comfortably with liquid coming to the top of pears.
  3. Boil liquid and sugar till sugar melts.
  4. Gently slide in the pears.
  5. Cover with parchment paper with a tiny cut in the centre to let the steam escape, while still pressing the pears down in poaching liquid. This helps prevent discolouration of the pears and even cooking. (While we're at it, I might as well tell you, I just cover it with a normal saucepan cover opened slightly at the top to let a bit of the steam escape)
  6. Cook for around 15-20 mins making sure to turn the pears if they stick out too much from the liquid until the pears are cooked through. Do not cook too much or they will turn mushy.
  7. Strain pears using a slotted spoon and keep aside to cool
  8. Reduce the rest of the poaching liquid for another 5 mins or till it coats the back of a spoon (slightly thick consistency). Remove the spices/herbs from the syrup. Bottle up. It comes in quite handy.

How I flavor the poached pears

The liquid -  I either use entirely water, or entirely red wine, or a half and half mix of water and red wine with some orange juice thrown in. A dash of lemon juice gives it a nice touch. You could do a rough combo and see what works for you. ALL of them work for me.

The spices & herbs -  I always use cinnamon. ALWAYS. 2 sticks at the very least. I like cinnamon. If you're not that fond of cinnamon go with atleast 1 stick. Its really nice. If I'm using orange juice in the liquid, I add the zest. That kicks it up a notch, a very nice notch I must say. If I want to add some more spice I add cloves. I've rarely used other spices while poaching pears. The last time I poached pears, I threw in kaffir lime leaves on a whim and it turned out really good.

The pears - I didn't mention the pears. I live in India. We get either Indian or Chinese pears. I'd rather go with Indian when available. The Chinese ones though cheaper seem a little grainy after poaching.

Who would have thought such a simple thing would turn out to be such a long post?
Try poaching pears and let me know your flavor combos.

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