Shapely pears standing upright in a puddle of deeply coloured syrup make an elegant dessert. These delicious Port Poached Pears taste even better made the day before and can be served either hot or cold.
Ingredients (serves 4):
4 beurre bosc pears (or other firm pears), peeled, stalks intact
2 cups port
1 cup caster sugar
4 strips of orange peel, cut with a vegetable peeler
To serve: mascarpone, crème fraiche or vanilla ice-cream
Saucepan with lid
Method (15 minutes + 1 hour 15 minutes cooking time):
1. Peel the pears leaving the stalks intact. Cut a thin slice off the base of each pear so they can stand upright.
2. Place the port, sugar, cloves and orange peel into a suitably sized saucepan that will hold the pears in one layer. Stir over a medium-low heat until the sugar dissolves. Increase the heat to high and bring to a boil.
3. Add the pears, laying them on their sides so they are almost completely submerged. Put the lid on the saucepan and reduce the heat to low. Simmer gently for about 1 hour or until the pears are tender, turning occasionally.
4. Using a slotted spoon, transfer the pears to a heatproof bowl.
5. Increase the heat to medium-high and boil the liquid for 15 minutes uncovered, or until reduced and syrupy.
6. Remove the cloves and the orange peel, return the pears to the saucepan and heat until the pears are warm (if making this dish in advance or serving cold, pour the liquid over the pears and allow to cool. Cover with plastic food wrap and refrigerate for at least 3 hours to allow the flavours to develop, turning the pears several times).
7. To serve, stand the pears upright in serving bowls, and spoon over the port syrup. Serve with either mascarpone, crème fraiche or vanilla ice-cream.