This is another light, refreshing winter dessert, perfect after a rich meal. For years I followed a traditional poached-pear recipe in which you leave the pears whole, rotate them four times by 90° in the wine to give them aneven coloring while they bake for 1 hour in the oven and worry about keeping stems and shapes intact. What’s more, when you eat these, you have to avoid pips and core, making for rather messy eating – definitely not a practical dessert for entertaining.
Recently I was once again in the mood for poached pears but some of my fruit was slightly bruised and did not lend itself to the whole-stewing approach. So I quartered and cored the pears, cut out the blemishes and cooked the segments in a mixture of apple juice and red wine with a cinnamon stick. No 90° turning, no fretting over shapes and definitely no messy pip-picking. In their clear, ruby-red syrup they looked just as elegant as their classic upright cousins and tasted even better, as the smaller pieces of fruit had been more deeply suffused with flavor. (You can adjust the wine-juice ratio as you like; I like a little less wine than juice.)
4 pears, peeled, quartered and cored
150 ml red wine
250 ml apple juice
1 strip of untreated lemon peel (about 5 cm)
1 cinnamon stick
1 tsp arrow root or corn flour
1 tbsp acacia honey
Place the pear segments in a medium sized saucepan with lemon peel, cinnamon stick and honey and cover with wine and juice. Slowly bring to the boil, cover and stew for 10 minutes, or until the pears are soft. (Avoid overcooking or you will get pear compote.) If you have time, leave to infuse for 1-2 hours. Remove pears to a bowl with a slotted spoon; discard lemon peel but leave cinnamon stick.
Bring wine-juice sauce back to the boil and cook for 10 minutes to reduce it slightly; mix arrow root or corn flour with a little more juice and pour into the bubbling sauce, stirring continually until it thickens. Add more honey if necessary, then pour over pear segments and chill until serving.