Our local orchards pick their apples and pears in September and store the fruit through the winter, selling the different varieties in a certain order. Some keep better than others, so we have to wait longer for them to be available. We have just got to the Comice pears, my favourite! Big, juicy with a wonderful flavour.
Here is a ridiculously easy recipe for pears cooked in wine, a perfect winter dessert, that can be prepared ahead, looks pretty and feels light!
To make my poires au vin, I normally cook 6 pears. With them I'll need about half a bottle of white wine, about half a cup of sugar, the juice of a lemon and a couple of spoons of home made orange marmalade.
First peel the pears and carefully cut out the cores from the base. I leave the stalks but find that it's a good idea to cut the base flat so the pears will stand nicely in a serving dish.
As each pear is peeled stand it in a saucepan and squeeze a little lemon juice over, to prevent discolouring. Once all the fruit is peeled and in the pan, pour in the white wine, this should come almost half way up the height of the pears. I used a dry white wine, some may prefer a sweeter taste.
Pour in the sugar, again the quantity is a question of taste, and more can be added later. I also add a couple of spoons of marmalade, the orange flavour adds a little zing and the chunks of orange zest look pretty against the pale fruit.
Start warming the pan and let the pears come to the boil then simmer gently for about 20 minutes. You want the fruit to be perfectly tender, but not to fall apart. When the fruit is cooked through, remove from the pan onto a dish and turn the heat up to reduce the wine sauce. You want to obtain a syrupy consistency, that will glaze the pears, but still liquid enough to give some sauce.
I serve the pears cold, but make a warm chocolate sauce to drizzle over by melting some good quality dark chocolate with a little water, sugar and rum. Yum! Hope you enjoy!