Posted by: acooksca | 04/02/2009

Pears Pickled in Red Wine and Spices

For years, I have had this hand written recipe in a spiral binder. When a friend recently gave me tiny Seckle pears that wouldn’t ripen in time to eat, I dug the recipe out. The original called for Merlot. As I work at a wine shop, there are always left over bottles from tasting. I combined whatever fruit-driven, non-tannic wines I found. I imagine your could use another type of fruit as long as it is firm and poaches well. I would like to try using figs.img_1867

The original recipe calls for canning the pears. It reminds us to sterilize jars and lids for ½ hour in boiling water and follow proper canning procedures. Canning is not a popular practice in most homes today. I happened to can the first batch of pears. But just to be sure, I refrigerated the jars and they were consumed about one month later. The second, un-canned batch sat in clean jars, with a tight lids, in the refrigerator for 3 weeks without a problem.

I served the pears filled with a smooth tangy goat cheese as a dessert. Some of the poaching liquid was further reduced and a little more sugar added for an accent. We also presented the pears stuffed with blue cheese on a salad (as in the photo).The liquid can be used instead of vinegar in a  wonderfully complimentary vinaigrette (see Cooks Note 2 at bottom of the recipe).

1 fifth red wine
3 cups red wine vinegar
6 cups sugar
1 tbl. chopped fresh rosemary
3 cinnamon sticks
3 whole cloves
10 whole firm small pears, whole and unpeeled (see Cooks Note)

In a large stainless steel pot, combine all ingredients (except the pears). Bring to a boil and reduce until a thin syrup is formed (about 5 minutes). Slip in the pears. Reduce the heat and simmer until the pears are barely crisp, just becoming soft throughout.

Pack pears gently into glass jars or other holding containers and cover completely with the poaching liquid. Cool completely. Refrigerate. Enjoy within 3 weeks of making.
Cooks Note: I prefer unpeeled pears for the added texture of the skins. Also, If you mistakenly overcook the pears the skins will keep the fruit from disintegrating..

Cooks Note 2: A wonderful vinaigrette can be made by sautéing 2 sliced shallots with 2 ounces chopped pancetta in a small sauté pan, until lightly browned. To the pan add 4 Tbl. pear  poaching liquid, 2 Tbl. olive oil or nut oil, salt and pepper to taste. Let cool slightly. Toss warm vinaigrette with greens, toasted pecans and chopped pickled pears and blue cheese (or top a bed of dressed lettuce with one half pear stuffed with the blue cheese). Yield depends on how much lettuce you use, but will serve 2-4.


Originally published in Farmstead Cheese News by Karen Bolla, edited for A Cook’s California (A Cook’s CA)  by Karen Bolla.


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