This simple dessert is great for fall and winter dinner gatherings and will make the perfect finish to any meal. If you can peel a pear and simmer water, you can make this dish. Best of all, it tastes even better when you prepare it a couple of days in advance. Also, this is great done in big batches and canned for later use.
We like to use bartlett pears as they have the perfect consistency for poaching. Other pears can't be poached in this manner and are better saved for different recipes. Let's get stated:
1. Get your mise en place ready - As with all of our recipes, get yourself set up for success. Gather the following ingredients and get ready to cook.
- 3 Ripe Bartlett Pears (leave at room temperature until fully ripened)
- 1 cup Sugar
- 1 tsp Saffron (Persian Saffron preferably)
- 1/4 Vanilla Bean (scraped, see below)
- Water to cover
2. Peel the pears - Carefully peel the pears taking care to leave the stem intact (makes for better presentation).
3. Vanilla Bean - Carefully split the vanilla bean in half and scrap away all the fragrant black seeds inside. Make sure you don't waste even one spec of vanilla.
4. Put it all together - Place the sugar, saffron, scraped vanilla beans and vanilla pod in the pot. With your fingers, pinch the sugar and saffron together a little to break the saffron strands. This will allow more flavour transfer of the saffron into the poaching liquid. Place the pears in the pot and cover with water.
5. Parchment lid - Make a lid as illustrated below with a square piece of parchment paper. This will help in two ways. It will help keep the pears submerged in the poaching liquid while allowing the steam to escape so the liquid can simmer at a constant temperature. If you use a regular lid, the temperature of the cooking liquid will fluctuate too much as the steam has no where to escape. Also, the pears will not be fully submerged and will not cook evenly.
6. Easy as that - Simmer the pears in the poaching liquid for aproximately 30 minutes. This will depend on the ripeness of your pears and the simmering temperature. Test the pear with a sharp knife. If it slides in easy, it is cooked. Try to undercook the pears a touch if you are planning on leaving them in the fridge overnight. Keep the pears submerged in the liquid for a minimum of 2 hours. This will help the saffron and vanilla flavours permiate throughout the pear. For best results, cool the pears in the poaching liquid overnight in the refrigerator. Pears will stay fresh for up to 3 days.
Also, DON"T THROW OUT THE LIQUID. Just reduce the poaching liquid to make a great colourful syrup or sauce.
7. Serving - Serve the pears as is, or accompany them with some vanilla ice cream or chocolate sauce. The pears can also be diced and placed into tarts.