Pears are funny things. They make us wait for that moment of perfect ripeness and when it occurs we have to eat them immediately. I had two conference pears in my fruit bowl. Every time I went into the kitchen I could see their skinny, stalked tops just poking out over the bowl looking at me, testing my patience. These pears seemed to be staying forever firm; even after four days there wasn’t a whisper of softness.
Pears poached in red wine is a classic but not something that I’ve ever tried. If anything was going to soften these pears it was being simmered in alcohol. Not just any wine mind but Elderberry wine. Poaching pears is incredibly simple, takes around half an hour and is brilliantly tasty. I also quite like how the pears look afterwards; slightly over to one side almost as if they are drunk.
You will need:
2 firm pears
1 bottle Elderberry wine
100g sugarStart by putting the wine and sugar into a pan and bring it to a simmer. While you wait for the wine to warm peel the pears and cut the bottom off so that they will stand up when cooked. When the wine is simmering add the pears and leave for 20-30 minutes or until soft when tested with a skewer.
Remove the pears when they’re soft and then turn the heat up on the wine. Boil the wine until it has reduced to a thin syrup. Depending on the ferocity of your flame and how much evaporated while the pears were cooking this can take anywhere from 5 to 15 minutes. Bear with it though and don’t give in to impatience; pears in wine soup would I’m sure be delicious but it’s not quite what you’re after. Serve the pears with their syrup.
This is a pretty effortless pudding; you really just ignore the pears and they change from being hard and pale to soft and blushing. The colour is wonderful; as you dig your spoon into the pear the inside is almost glowing surrounded by an autumnal border. If you use normal red wine you may want to add a little extra sugar, I didn’t add very much as the Elderberry wine was already fairly sweet. The pears flavoured the syrup and the wine flavoured the pears; an easy and decadently delicious dessert.