Port-poached pears

preparation time: 15 minutes
cooking time: 30-40 minutes
crème fraîche-making time: 2-3 days
emergency contact: edward

poached pears with crème fraîche and port syrup

With the New Year, 54Leacock.ca will be posting a series of most frequently requested recipes — for those dishes that often appear at the Big Holiday dinners and are greeted with wild enthusiasm each and every time. Some of these recipes, like the ones for gravlax and 1-2-3-4 spareribs, have been up for a while, thoroughly tested and officially deemed “foolproof”. We’ll need your help and input to get this new batch in shape as well. So without further ado: poached pears with crème fraîche and port syrup.

Bosc pears – 6
cinnamon – 1.5 sticks (3-4 inches)
star anise – 2.5
juice and zest of 1.5 lemon
ginger – 1.5 coin (a coin is loonie-sized)
port – 3.5 cup
sugar – 3/4 cup
vanilla extract – 1.5 tsp

Crème fraîche:
heavy (35%) cream – 1 cup
lemon juice – 3 Tbsp
icing sugar – 2 Tbsp
sour cream – 1/4 cup

Put all the poaching liquid ingredients into a pot, bring to a boil over high heat, then reduce the heat to medium low and simmer the poaching liquid for about 5 to 6 minutes.

Peel 3 pears, half and core them.  (You can certainly try to use the whole pear, peeled and cored; I half them to make them poach faster, to increase the surface area between the pears and the poaching liquid, and to make it easier to serve them.  The whole pear, though, does seem more elegant.)  Immerse the pears in the poaching liquid.   Stay at medium low heat.  The pears float, so if you cut a round piece of parchment paper and cover the surface of the liquid completely, it helps to push the pears into the liquid a little and when the liquid simmers, the simmering liquid can flow on top of the floating pears.

Poach for about 25 to 30 minutes, till tender.  Turn the pears every 5 or 10 minutes.  The riper the pears, the more tender and the sweeter the resultant poached pears are.  (I know that some people do not quite like the tang and the texture of not-so-ripe pears.  But if they’re too ripe, the pears may fall apart upon poaching.)  Remove the pears after poaching and put the second batch, the remaining 3 pears, into the poaching liquid and repeat the poaching process.

You can refrigerate the pears.  You can also reduce the poaching liquid into a syrup (adding sugar or lemon juice to adjust the taste) and serve it with the pears.  (You definitely don’t want to waste the poaching liquid if it’s a sixty-dollar bottle of Port.)   When you cool down and refrigerate the syrup, it does thicken quite a bit.   If you overreduce the liquid and the syrup becomes really thick, it makes a great jam. (Mix it with some Nutella and put it over vanilla ice cream…)

For the crème fraîche:
In a small bowl, mix the ingredients together and stir well.  An eggwhisk helps.  Cover with plastic wrap and let stand at room temperature for about 2 to 3 days, till the mixture sets into a sour-cream-like consistency (with some whey-like liquid at the bottom).  Spoon the thick stuff into a container (discard the liquid), refrigerate it, and inhale it whenever you feel like it.   You can make however many batches you want.   It’ll clog your arteries but it’ll make you happy at the same time.

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