Posted by: acooksca | 11/18/2011

Pears Pickled in Red Wine and Spices

Pickled Pear Salad

For years, I had this hand written recipe in a spiral binder. When a friend 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 tastings. I combined whatever fruit-driven, non-tannic wines I found.

You can serve the pears filled with a smooth tangy goat cheese as a dessert. Reduce some of the poaching liquid, add a little more sugar and use this syrup drizzled over the pear. You can also present the pears stuffed with blue cheese on a salad (as in the photo).The liquid can be used instead of vinegar in a complimentary vinaigrette (see Cooks Note 2 at bottom of the recipe).

Pears store well in the liquid for several weeks refrigerated.

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.

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