holiday / wine

Why use water when there is merlot?

I attempted this recipe from MarthaStewart.com, mostly because the finished product looked so impressive.  I have to say it was a masterful okay-crazy kind of baked good to bring to a party, but I was disappointed in the cake portion.  It was oily and salty and too crumbly to really sustain the reduction sauce – not at all what I would expect from Martha, but hey, you can’t win them all.  The pears, however, were phenomenal.  I will now poach all things in wine instead of water.  Plus they turn a lovely blush from the red wine. Recipe below, with a few tweaks from the original.

Red Wine Poached Pears

  • 5 medium firm pears, such as Anjou, Bartlett, or Bosc
  • 1 bottle (750 ml) robust red wine, such as Cabernet Sauvignon, Cabernet Franc, or Merlot
  • 1/2 cup sugar
  • 2 teaspoons vanilla extract
  • 1 whole cinnamon stick
  • Peel from 1 orange
  • Peel from 1 lemon
  • 3 whole cloves
  • 1 star anise
  • 2 whole bay leaves

Peel pears, and place in a medium saucepan. Add remaining ingredients and just enough water to cover pears.
Bring to a boil over high heat.  Reduce to a simmer, and cook, stirring gently, until a fork easily pierces pears, about 15 minutes. Remove pan from heat; let pears cool in liquid.
Using a slotted spoon, a serving bowl or airtight container for storage.  Pour poaching liquid through a sieve set over a bowl. Discard solids, and return liquid to saucepan. Place over medium-high heat, and cook until liquid has been reduced to a syrup that coats the back of a spoon, about 45 minutes. Let cool; store pears in red-wine syrup in an airtight container until ready to eat.

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