Thursday, September 30, 2010

Pears in Wine syrup

It all started with a leftover Merlot and a rare find of beautiful, local pears.   This desert signifies autumn to me.   It has the fall colors and the smell of spice reminds me of pies.  I once made these pears for Thanksgiving and they were a hit.  This time I changed up the spices and played with wine combination.  Since I had only about a cup of dry red wine, I wanted to add some sweetness without adding to much sugar.  Port would have been a good choice, but I only had a few little bottles left, that seemed too precious to use on the sauce.  I remembered a bottle of semi-sweet table wine we brought back from Finger Lakes.  It is a blend of local grape verities and is too sweet for my liking .  We originally brought two bottles to give away to our parents (they like sweeter wines) but never got around to it.  I used one for the Sweet Wine and Peach Sorbet and decided to use the other one for this desert. 
I am sure that by combining the sweet white wine with dry red I must have committed some-kind of culinary crime, but the sauce came out great… it even had the hint of cherries.

Pears in Wine syrup.

6 to 8 Bosc pears, ripe but still firm. 
1 tsp of whole pink peppercorns
Orange zest from ½ orange
1 cinnamon stick
½ inch knob of fresh ginger
2 cardamom pods lightly crushed
1 full bottle of a semi-sweet white wine, such as Moscato or Cauga.  You can also use semi-sweet Reisling.
1 Cup of Dry red wine ( any leftover wine will do)
1 cup of sugar
¼ cup balsamic vinegar.

Peel and core the pears.  Leave the stems intact, it looks prettier and makes it easier to handle hot pears.  Place the pears in a pot large enough to fit them all up-right. 

Add the peppercorns, orange peel, cinnamon stick, and cardamom.  Peel and grate the ginger and add it to the pears.  Pour all of the white and red wine over the pears.  They should now be submerged almost to the top.  Bring to a boil, reduce heat and simmer for about 20 – 30 min or until pears are fork tender but not mushy. 

Remove the pears and set aside.  Strain the remaining liquid to remove all the spices and place it back in the pot.  Add the sugar and the vinegar and reduce until the syrup coats the back of the spoon.

Everything can be made a day ahead.  Pears can be stored in the refrigerator for up to 2 days.  The syrup can be stored tightly covered for over a week.  On serving day, just reheat the pears and the syrup separately in a microwave.  Pour the syrup over the pears and serve. 
I like to serve each pear intact, one per person.  This time I had to cut them in slices as the demand was higher than I though.

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