Monday, 17 September 2012

Pears Poached In Sweet Wine

This pudding is one of my father's favourites, from the worst-laid-out cookbook either of us has ever seen, authored by Nigel Slater, one of my favourite food people.  This isn't Nigel's recipe, because it uses sweet wine instead of red, but red is traditional.
It is a law of cooking that if (as generally recommended) you save the sh*te wine for cooking, your cooking will taste of sh*te wine.  Splash out on the £6.99 stuff on offer from £10 - you can always drink the rest of the bottle.

Pears Poached In Sweet Wine
You Will Need: Medium saucepan, measuring jug, wooden spoon, teaspoon, chopping board and knife, potato peeler, plate

4 small pears
350ml good sweet wine such as Muscat
30g sugar
100ml water
1/2 tsp cinnamon
1 vanilla pod, split and scraped
6 cloves

1) Peel and cut the pears into halves lengthways, scooping out the cores with the end of the teaspoon.
1a) If making my pear and chocolate birthday cake, make sure that you keep three half-pears with stalks on to make into decorative fans for the top.  Peel and core these too.
2) Melt the sugar in the water in the saucepan.  Split the vanilla pod. Scrape the vanilla seeds with the end of your knife into the pan; add the other spices including the pod, and swirl until golden and fragrant.  Add the wine carefully. (Method from Jamie Oliver).  Bring the mixture to a simmer, and add the pears.  Cook for approximately half an hour, until tender.
3) Retrieve the pears with the spoon.
3a) If you are making the pear and chocolate birthday cake, cut all but three half-pears into long slices for a filling layer.  Carefully cut the stalked three into fans, and keep these aside.

Protip: Save the cooking liquid as a hot toddy - it tastes AWESOME.  Cook's perks!  Or reduce slightly and serve as a sauce for the pears, if doing as a pudding.

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