Pears are a wonderful fall fruit. But waiting for them to soften before eating them can take way too long. Seattle Chef Tom Douglas from the Hot Stove Society says by poaching them you can turn one simple pear into three different dishes.
Red Wine Poached Pears
Adapted from Mastering the Art of French Cooking by Julia Child
1 cup sugar
1½ cups red wine
1½ cups water
4 whole cloves
The zests of ½ orange and ½ lemon removed in strips with a vegetable peeler
1 teaspoon vanilla
4 firm, ripe, unblemished pears
In a saucepan large enough to hold all the pears, place the sugar, wine, and water. Bring to the simmer, stirring occasionally, and when the sugar is dissolved add the cloves, zests, and vanilla. Simmer 5 or 10 minutes to infuse flavors, then remove from the heat.
Peel the pears, halve lengthwise, and remove stem lines and cores. Drop each, when done, into the wine syrup. Syrup should barely cover the pears; add more liquid and sugar if necessary (1/2 cup sugar per cup of liquid). Bring to a gentle simmer and cook, uncovered, for 10 to 15 minutes until the pears are just tender when pierced with a knife. Let the pears cool in syrup for at least 20 minutes so that they will firm up as well as absorb the flavors. You may refrigerate the pears in the syrup for several days before serving.