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White Wine-Poached Pears

Tender, fragrant Bartlett pears poached in white wine with peppercorns, ginger and lemon are appealing during late summer and fall as an alternative to the traditional winter pears simmered in red wine. In the cooler months, serve these aromatic pears when pork or roasted poultry is on the menu. 

Ingredients:

  • 4 Bartlett pears, peeled, with stems intact 
  • 1 bottle (750ml) Pinot Grigio or other fruity white wine 
  • 3/4 cup sugar 
  • 2 strips lemon zest, each 2 inches long and 3/4 inch wide 
  • Juice of 1 lemon (about 3 Tbs.) 
  • 6 peppercorns 
  • 4 thin slices fresh ginger 
  • 3 cups water
  • 4 fresh mint sprigs (optional) 

Directions:

Place the pears in a nonreactive saucepan just wide enough to hold them standing upright. Add the wine, sugar, lemon zest and juice, peppercorns, ginger and water. Place the pan over medium-high heat and bring to a boil. Reduce the heat to medium-low, set a heatproof plate or smaller pan lid on top of the pears to keep them submerged and simmer gently until a thin knife inserted into the widest part of a pear easily pierces to the center, about 25 minutes. Remove the plate and let the pears cool to room temperature in the liquid.

Using a slotted spoon, lift the pears from the liquid. Cut them in half and, using a melon baller, remove the cores. Set the halves in a heatproof bowl.

Bring the cooking liquid to a boil over high heat and boil until it is reduced by two-thirds, about 20 minutes. Pour the liquid through a fine-mesh sieve held over the pears and let the pears cool once again in the liquid.

Serve at room temperature, garnished with the mint sprigs. Serves 4.

Adapted from Williams-Sonoma, Essentials of Healthful Cooking, by Mary Abbott Hess, Dana Jacobi & Marie Simmons (Oxmoor House, 2003).