Baked pear dish makes a festive winter dessert
Years ago, I happened to be at a Los Angeles food event where caterers were showing off their most celebrated dishes. I was struck by a platter of slightly wrinkled pears drizzled with ribbons of glossy red glaze. I had never considered cooking a pear with the skin on. I was in a hurry and didn't have a chance to get the recipe, but I couldn't get it out of my mind. It was a spectacularly elegant yet rustic dessert that seemed easy to put together. After all, no peeling required.
On my first try, I cooked the pears so long that the fruit was too soft and the glaze was concentrated with a decidedly burnt aftertaste — definitely not my best cooking moment. The next try resulted in a wonderful dessert that was not too heavy and was truly artful to look at. I have made so many variations along the way that I can honestly say this is one dessert that you can make your own. Below you will find other flavor ideas.
Baked fruits are every bit as good as roasted vegetables, benefiting from the heat and caramelization that takes place in the oven. Roasting vegetables requires a higher heat and drizzle of olive oil and seasoning to bring out their inherent melting sweetness. Fruits require some liquid and sugar to achieve a similar result. Bosc pears are a good choice for this bistro-style dessert, because they have a creamy texture that holds up well during cooking.
I hope you'll try these pears whether you are serving a crowd or just a small group. Serve them at room temperature or reheat them just before serving; either way, this dessert will shine.
Some things to keep in mind:
• Make sure the pears have stems attached for a pretty presentation. Also, wrap stems in foil so they don't burn. Remove foil carefully after baking.
• Use a shallow rimmed glass or ceramic baking dish so that the liquid can reduce.
• Try other flavors: substitute pomegranate juice or cranberry cocktail for the port, or use only red wine, or try a sweet dessert wine flavored with a vanilla bean along with the sugar.
• This recipe can be prepared up to 8 hours ahead through the spooning of the glaze over the pears, and kept at room temperature.
• Serve these with biscotti or a crisp butter cookie.
• Serve with whipped cream or French vanilla ice cream.
Baked Pears in Red Wine and Port Wine Glaze
2 cups dry red wine, Merlot or Cabernet Sauvignon
1 cup tawny port wine
1 cup sugar
1 cinnamon stick
2-inch piece lemon or orange zest
8 Bosc pears, ripe, but firm with stems attached
Fresh mint leaves, for garnish
Preheat the oven to 350 degrees. In a medium nonaluminum saucepan over medium heat, bring the red wine, port, sugar, cinnamon and lemon or orange zest to a simmer, and dissolve the sugar. Remove the cinnamon stick.
Core the pears from the bottom, then cut the bottom flat so that they can stand upright. Wrap a small piece of aluminum foil around each stem to protect it from burning.
Place the pears stem-side up in a large baking pan and pour the wine mixture over them. (Reserve the saucepan.) Bake the pears for about 1 hour or until tender when pierced with a knife, basting every 15 minutes with the wine mixture.
Remove the pears from the oven and carefully remove the foil from the stems. Transfer the pears to a serving platter.
Pour off the remaining wine mixture into the reserved saucepan. Bring to a simmer on medium-high heat, and reduce the wine until it becomes a glaze. Spoon the glaze over the pears.
Garnish with fresh mint leaves, and serve warm, with vanilla ice cream if desired. These pears are excellent served at room temperature.
Diane Rossen Worthington is an authority on new American cooking. She is the author of 20 cookbooks and a James Beard award-winning radio show host. Contact her at www.seriouslysimple.com.
Show commenting policy
TribLive commenting policy
You are solely responsible for your comments and by using TribLive.com you agree to our Terms of Service.
We moderate comments. Our goal is to provide substantive commentary for a general readership. By screening submissions, we provide a space where readers can share intelligent and informed commentary that enhances the quality of our news and information.
While most comments will be posted if they are on-topic and not abusive, moderating decisions are subjective. We will make them as carefully and consistently as we can. Because of the volume of reader comments, we cannot review individual moderation decisions with readers.
We value thoughtful comments representing a range of views that make their point quickly and politely. We make an effort to protect discussions from repeated comments either by the same reader or different readers.
We follow the same standards for taste as the daily newspaper. A few things we won't tolerate: personal attacks, obscenity, vulgarity, profanity (including expletives and letters followed by dashes), commercial promotion, impersonations, incoherence, proselytizing and SHOUTING. Don't include URLs to Web sites.
We do not edit comments. They are either approved or deleted. We reserve the right to edit a comment that is quoted or excerpted in an article. In this case, we may fix spelling and punctuation.
We welcome strong opinions and criticism of our work, but we don't want comments to become bogged down with discussions of our policies and we will moderate accordingly.
We appreciate it when readers and people quoted in articles or blog posts point out errors of fact or emphasis and will investigate all assertions. But these suggestions should be sent via e-mail. To avoid distracting other readers, we won't publish comments that suggest a correction. Instead, corrections will be made in a blog post or in an article.
- UPMC researcher who died of cyanide poisoning committed suicide
- Penguins finally break through, defeat Devils at Prudential Center
- Sting highlights demand for Pappy Van Winkle bourbon
- HOF finalist Bettis ‘behind everything’ in 2005 Super Bowl run
- Penguins notebook: Bennett a healthy scratch
- Rooney says Pittsburgh is ‘good place’ for next northern Super Bowl
- Pa. Turnpike claims software fraud, wants $45M
- Pirates sign 2 to minor league deals
- Dungy, Greene represent more Steelers ties in hall of fame voting
- Wilkinsburg auto dealer scammed at least 30 people, police say
- Homework: Pittsburgh Home Show to feature celebs, wine and pets