What I love about this recipe — other than the obvious deliciousness — is that these poached pears are not only divine on their own, but they can become an ingredient in both sweet and savory recipes.
Total Prep and Cooking Time: 5 minutes (plus at least 3 hours marinating time)
1 cup Ruby Port wine
1 large, (ripe, but firm), pear (I like Comice or Bosc)
3 whole star anise
1 sprig fresh thyme
About 2 teaspoons granulated sugar for sprinkling
Add the port to a small saucepan with the star anise and thyme.
Peel the pear and cut it in half. Use a melon baller or a teaspoon to core the pear and then cut it into about 8 to 10 (1/8 to 1/4-inch) slices per half. Add the pears to the port mixture in the saucepan.
Turn on the broiler and drain the pears, saving the poaching liquid, and returning it to the saucepan. Gently place the poached pear slices on a baking sheet covered with foil. Sprinkle the pears with a thin coating of granulated sugar and place them under the broiler just until they begin to brown or char a tiny bit along the edges, about 2 minutes. (Every broiler is different, so check them every 30 seconds or so!)
Bring the poaching liquid to a boil, then reduce the heat to a simmer until it has reduced by about half. This should take about 15 minutes, and the result will be a sweet, thick port wine syrup — for drizzling on top of the pears.
At least 3 hours and up to 2 days ahead of time: Poach the pears.
Just before serving (or using in a recipe): Brûlée the pears.
If you have a small kitchen blowtorch, you can brûlée the pears with it instead of the broiler. Either way, you’ll get a similar effect.
The longer the pears marinate, the more intense the flavor will become. It’s up to you!