Port Poached Pears

As you know, my preference is to eat by the seasons and incorporate seasonal produce into my cooking daily. There are so many benefits to this! To name a few: the produce is at its optimum taste, it lasts longer, it is least expensive, and with less food miles to travel it is better for the environment.

Pears are in season right now and this elegant dessert is a winner at a dinner party. Shapely pears standing upright in a puddle of deeply coloured syrup – what’s not to love? These Port Poached Pears are best made the day before to allow the flavours to infuse, and can be served either hot or cold. Serve with mascarpone or crème fraiche alongside a glass of liqueur muscat, and you will be sure to be the host(ess) with the most(ess)!

Ingredients (serves 4):
1 cup caster sugar
2 cups port
4 cloves
4 strips of orange peel, cut with a vegetable peeler
4 beurre bosc pears (or other firm pears)

To serve: mascarpone, crème fraiche

1. Place the sugar, port, cloves and orange peel into a suitably sized lidded 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.
2. Meanwhile, peel the pears leaving the stalks intact. Cut a thin slice off the base of each pear so they can stand upright.
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 and pour the liquid over the pears. Allow to cool and refrigerate for at least 3 hours to allow the flavours to develop, turning the pears several times.
7. The pears can be served either cold or warm (reheat in a saucepan over the stove).
8. 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.

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