Deep dark red poached pears, fragrant with warming spice. Cooking this will fill your house with the most amazing aromas. You can serve these as a side to accompany a hearty stew or as the star of a desert with some (ice) cream. Here we make these with the Gieser Wildeman pear, a variety that has been in use since 1850. Inedible raw, this pear will turn a soft pink when cooked even without any red wine. If you can't find this variety (and if you're not in the Netherlands that is likely) you can use any good cooking pear, preferably rather unripe.
- 1 kg pears
- 1 bottle of red wine
- 2 pieces of lemon peel
- 1 star anise
- 1 cinnamon stick
- 1 piece of mace
- 5 cloves
- 3 tablespoons of sugar (and 250 grams extra if you are making the syrup)
Peel the pears leaving the stem intact, also take a slice of the bottom so they stand up neatly. You can peel of a little extra at the neck to emphasize their pear shape. Place them standing up in a wide pan.
Add the spices, peel and red wine to the pan. Add additional water until the pears are almost completely covered. During the cooking process there will be a lot of evaporation, turn the pears regularly to make sure they cook evenly. Gieser Wildeman pears will take an hour and a halve to cook. If you are using an unripe eating pear it will probably only take 30 minutes or so (test by sticking in a knife). In that case it would be a good idea to boil the wine with the spices for 30 minutes before adding the pears. This way the spices get a proper amount of time to infuse and the alcohol a chance to burn off.
If using the pears for a savory dish; you are done. If you are using it as a desert; remove the pears from the wine and add the extra sugar to the cooking liquid. Now let it reduce by two thirds until you have a slightly sticky syrup and remove the spices. Use this syrup to lacquer the pears and as a sauce.