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A sweet and spicy dessert from La Buvette.
Poached pears can be an elegant dessert served simply, just on a plate alone or with a spoonful of freshly whipped cream. The typical version can be a bit too sweet, filled with vanilla and cinnamon. To counter the sweetness, I add a bit of pepper for more of a spiced edge. Timut pepper is quite unique in that it has a citrus aroma that also works well with the pears.
1 (750 ml) bottle ripe red wine, such as Valpolicella or zinfandel
4 strips orange or grapefruit zest
½ teaspoon timut peppercorns*
¼ cup honey
4 medium pears, preferably slightly underripe
Choose a pot that will fit the pears snugly (this way they will stay more covered in liquid while cooking). Combine the wine, zest, peppercorns and honey in the pot and bring to a simmer over medium-high heat. While the poaching liquid heats up, peel the pears carefully, keeping the whole shape and stem intact.
Gently lower the pears into the poaching liquid. Bring the liquid back to a simmer over medium-high heat, then lower the heat to low. Cook, gently turning the pieces over 3 or 4 times during the process, until the pears are cooked through and tender but still hold their shape (35 to 40 minutes). Using a slotted spoon, transfer the pears out of the poaching liquid and onto a plate to cool. If any of the peppercorns stick to the pears, pick them out.
Bring the poaching liquid to a simmer over medium heat and cook until slightly thicker, with more concentration of flavour, about 10 minutes. Strain.
Cool the cooking liquid and pears to room temperature, then combine the two together, cover, and refrigerate for a least 1 hour, or up to 3 days. Serve the pears chilled in a bowl with a spoonful of the poaching liquid.
*If you cant find timut peppercorns, look for sansho peppercorns. If both are impossible to find, use black peppercorns.
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