From Ruth Van Waerebeek’s “Everbody Eats Well in Belgium Cookbook.” Ruth recommends this as an accompaniment to her Christmas Turkey. I make this once a year for Thanksgiving. Note: Prepare several hours prior to, if not the day before, serving.
- 6 firm-ripe large pears, such as Anjou or seckel pears, peeled, stems left intact
- 1 (750 ml) bottlefruity red wine, such as a California Burgundy
- 1 lemon, peeled, white pith removed, sliced
- 4 whole cloves
- 3⁄4 cup sugar
- 1 1⁄2 teaspoons vanilla extract
- 3 cinnamon sticks (each 2 inches)
- 1 piece lemon zest (1 inch)
- 6 fresh mint leaves, for garnish
- Place the pears and the wine in a nonreactive medium-size saucepan. Be sure the wine completely covers the pears. Stud 4 of the lemon slices with the cloves and add them with all the other ingredients (except the mint) to the pears. Bring to a boil, reduce the heat, and simmer, uncovered, until the pears are soft but not mushy, 25 to 35 minutes.
- Transfer the pears to a serving bowl. Reduce the poaching liquid over high heat by one-third to concentrate the flavors. This may take up to 15 minutes. Pour over the pears—cinammon sticks and all—and let cool.
- Let the pears sit for a few hours, or, ever better, overnight, so they can fully absorb the flavors in the wine. They will turn a beautiful vermillion color.