Quick and easy red wine poached pears

With the help of some warming ingredients from your spice cupboard, you can create this wonderfully simple but luxurious dessert of red wine poached pears to share with your favourite people. Served with a warm, rich crème anglaise near a crackling fire? A perfect winter indulgence.

Poaching is gentle, stove-top cooking and pears are ideal since they keep their shape. Poaching improves the taste of pears and the longer the pears sit in the syrup after poaching, the better they’ll taste. Choose pears that are firm with no bruises and minimal marks. They should not be completely ripe or they’ll be too soft once cooked.

Ingredients

Serves: 6

6 pears
1 lemon
1 bottle red wine
300g caster sugar
cinnamon sticks, halved
2 Tbsp whole cardamon
4- 6 whole star anise
Zest of 1 orange

Method:
1. Peel your pears but keep them whole and with the stalk intact. To prevent them from browning, once peeled, place them in a bowl of cold water with a squeeze of lemon in and add some lemon rind.
2. Place the pears into a large saucepan with the wine, sugar, cinnamon, cardamon, star anise and orange zest.

3. Make sure the pears are covered in wine so that they cook through evenly. Poach for approximately 30 minutes. The cooking time will depend on the ripeness of your pears – they should be tender all the way through when pierced with a tester or cocktail stick.

TIP: Whilst poaching, cover the pears with baking paper. This will ensure that your pears cook evenly as the paper suppresses them further into the red wine broth, where they would otherwise bob to the surface.

4. Remove the pears from the pan, then boil the liquid to reduce it by half so that you’re left with a syrupy consistency. Now place the pears back into the syrup to coat.

Serve each pear in a warmed bowl with some syrup and a drizzling of the crème anglaise. Pop a piece of cinnamon and star anise on for visual affect and aroma. Stay warm and enjoy.