Lillet-Poached Pears

lillet poached pearsSugar, spice and everything nice—that’s what you’ll find in this poached pear dessert from Erin Scott.

3 cups Lillet Blanc
2 cups water
Zest and juice of 1 orange
¾ cup sugar or ½ cup light agave nectar
2 small tangerines or 8 kumquats, thinly sliced, with the peels still on
10 sprigs fresh thyme
8 black peppercorns
4 just-ripe pears (Warren, Anjou, or Bosc)

Place the Lillet, water, orange zest, orange juice, sugar, tangerines, thyme, and peppercorns into a large saucepan. Heat over medium-high heat for a few minutes, stirring occasionally, until the sugar dissolves.

In the meantime, peel the pears and cut a bit off the bottom of each to make it flat and able to stand without falling. Keep the stems intact.

Submerge your peeled pears in the poaching liquid and return to a simmer. Cut out a circle of parchment paper to cover the pears and liquid. Place a plate or small pot lid over the parchment-covered pears to keep them submerged. If your pears are not totally covered by liquid, you may want to add a bit more water or just rotate the fruit periodically to ensure even cooking.

Simmer the covered pears for 30 minutes. (If your pears are a little underripe, you may want to add 10 or so minutes to the cooking time. If the pears are very ripe, 20 minutes of poaching should be enough.) To test for doneness, a sharp knife should be able to pierce a pear without effort. Remove the pan from the stove top and let the pears sit, covered and submerged in their poaching liquid, for 20 to 30 minutes before serving.

Place each pear in a small bowl. Strain the poaching liquid, reserving the solids to use as garnish. Pour a few tablespoons of the strained liquid over each pear. Add a couple of poached citrus slices, a twig of two of thyme, and some orange zest to each bowl.

Serves 4.

Reprinted with permission from Yummy Supper by Erin Scott. Published by Rodale Books.