The past two weekends I have prepared poached pears for friends. Poached pears smell heavenly while simmering and require very little attention; two great qualities when you know other people will be waiting and you want to pay attention to them not the food.
If served right away, they are warm and melt in your mouth. The finished pears are firm yet yielding enough to consume without a knife and are best with a spoon to scoop up the syrup. They are simple, satisfying, in season (!) and stun everyone with the end result.
I reviewed numerous recipes, mostly referring to Meg’s Joy of Cooking before deciding to use the methodology and ingredients below.
4 firm pears, peeled, halved cored, stems on and bottoms cut flat (I’ve used bosc or seckel with success.)
4 cups Water
3/4 cup Agave Syrup*
1 Tbsp Vanilla Bean Paste
1. Place water and agave syrup into a pan deep enough to fully immerse all 4 pear halves in the liquid. Add the vanilla bean paste and four cloves. Bring to a simmer.
2. While the liquid heats, peel the pears and slice them in half leaving the stems on. Cut the bottoms flat in case you want to stand them up. Scoop out the core with a melon baller.
3. Add pears to the liquid ensuring they are fully submerged so they don’t change color. Let simmer uncovered for 20 (or however many) minutes.
4. Remove pears from poaching liquid. Bring it to a boil to reduce to a stronger simple syrup.
5. Sprinkle pears with cinnamon. Spoon simple syrup over and savor.
*I’ve been using Agave Syrup as I have had it on hand from an awesome trip to Costco just before Christmas, but it can be replaced with 1 cup of regular sugar. The pears are bound to still taste delicious though they technically will spike your blood sugar more. It’s only a matter of time before I revert to sugar as my wholesale access to Agave Nectar is gone with my parents.