Thursday, 24 November 2011
Pears in mulled cider
Given how much leftover wine we have in the house (I'm also a wine writer for those of you who don't know) I normally poach pears in red wine but I tried them again the other day in cider and I'm not sure I don't prefer them that way. It seems to preserve the pear flavour better. (You could also use an off-dry perry, of course)
This is a great way to use those greenish brown conference pears which never look very appealing but have a superb flavour. You want them not quite ripe enough for eating but not rock-hard either. I'd pick them out by hand rather than buy a bag of them even though they tend to be cheaper that way. You can tell the stage they're at by pressing the top of each pear gently by the stem. There should be a tiny bit of give.
A great dessert for when you’ve had an indulgent carb-laden main course like a pie!
4 evenly sized, not quite ripe conference pears
330ml medium dry cider
4-5 heaped tbsp unrefined caster sugar
A fine strip of lemon peel + a little lemon juice to taste if needed
1 small cinnamon stick
Pouring cream or vanilla ice cream to serve
Keeping the pears whole remove the peel carefully with a small sharp knife, leaving the stalk on. Fit them side by side in a medium-sized saucepan and pour over the cider. Add enough water to cover the pears. Remove the pears from the liquid and set them aside.
Add 4 heaped tbsp of unrefined caster sugar and place the pan over a low heat until the sugar has dissolved. Taste the liquid and add a little extra sugar if you don’t think it’s quite sweet enough (ciders vary).
Return the pears to the pan along with the lemon peel and cinnamon stick and bring the liquid to the boil. Turn down the heat, cover the pan and simmer for about 45 minutes until the pears are soft. Remove them carefully from the pan with a slotted spoon and transfer to a shallow glass dish.
Remove the lemon peel and cinnamon then turn the heat up and boil the remaining liquid by about two thirds until thick and syrupy. Check for sweetness adding a little lemon juice if needed. Pour the syrup over the pears and leave to cool.
Serve just warm or at room temperature with double cream or vanilla ice cream and some crisp home-baked biscuits or shortbread.
Oh, and a happy Thanksgiving to my American readers. I suppose this should have been a pumpkin pie really but I'm sure you've got zillions of recipes for that. This might make a nice change ;-).