White Wine Poached Pears | The Jewish Week | Food & Wine

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White Wine Poached Pears

White Wine Poached Pears

White Wine Poached Pears (Ellen Silverman)

6 servings

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Poached fruit is an elegant end to a meal. It’s light, simple and lovely, full of flavor, but not filling or fussy. It’s just what you want after hearty dishes, like meat or pasta, and it’s perfect in fall and winter, when fruit isn’t very lush but we’re all craving it.

Most recipes for poached pears call for red wine — and you could use red wine in this recipe — but I think you might appreciate the softness of white wine (no tannins) and the slight acidity that perks up pears’ natural sweetness.

Choose the variety of pear you enjoy most, but pick fruit that’s still firm. Since it’s often difficult to find ripe, juicy pears, this is a great recipe for making fruit that falls short of perfection delicious. These take really well to sauce — caramel, chocolate or berry — and/or cream.



6 firm pears (see headnote)

1 lemon, halved

2 cups (480 ml) white wine

¼ cup (50 grams) sugar

2 tablespoons honey

4 quarter-sized slices peeled fresh ginger

1 or 2 vanilla beans, split and scraped (use the pulp, reserve or discard the pods) or 1 tablespoon pure vanilla extract

1 or 2 cinnamon sticks

1 whole star anise, broken into points

Pinch of Urfa pepper (see page 335), cayenne pepper or crushed red pepper flakes (optional)

Caramel, chocolate or berry sauce, store-bought or homemade, for serving (optional)

Lightly sweetened whipped cream or crème fraîche, for serving (optional)


WORKING AHEAD: Packed in a tightly covered container, the pears can be refrigerated for up to 3 days.

To poach the pears, you’ll need a lidded pot large enough to hold them upright snugly in a single layer; I use a soup pot and one of the pears is always a little squished and slightly higher than the others, but it works out. You’ll also need a piece of parchment (or wax) paper cut to fit inside the pot. (Covering the pears with parchment will slow the reduction of the syrup and keep the fruit from bobbing about.)

One at a time, peel the pears, leaving a circle of skin at the top of each, if you’d like, as well as the stem, if the pear has one. Immediately rub the pear with a lemon half to keep it from browning. Using a long vegetable peeler, an apple corer or a knife, working from the bottom, remove the pear’s core, being careful not to cut through the top. Squirt a bit of juice inside the pear.

Cut a couple of slices from the other lemon half and toss them into the pot, along with the remaining ingredients except the pears. Place the pot over medium heat and bring the liquid to a boil, stirring to dissolve the honey and sugar. Lower the heat and carefully fit the pears into the pot — extra points if they’re all standing up. The pears will not be covered by the liquid, and that’s fine. Put the parchment circle over the pears, pressing down lightly so that the paper touches the fruit, and cover the pot with the lid.

Simmer gently for 15 to 20 minutes, or until the fruit is still firm (you want it to hold its shape) but easily pierced with a small sharp knife. Carefully transfer the pears to a bowl or container. Turn the heat up and boil the syrup for about 5 minutes to further concentrate the flavors. Pour the syrup over the pears and allow them to cool to just warm or room temperature, then catch and discard the points of star anise, or do it before serving. You can serve the pears warm or chilled. I usually serve them cold and plain — one pear in a nice bowl or a stemless glass with syrup poured around it is perfect.

URFA PEPPER: This Turkish chile pepper is always found dried and crushed into flakes. Even dried, the pepper retains some moisture. Its heat is mild, and it may have the aroma and slightly sweet tang of dried fruit. This chile is optional in many of my recipes; where it’s not, substitutions, such as smoked paprika or crushed red pepper flakes, are suggested.

White Wine-Poached Pears is excerpted from Everyday Dorie© 2018 by Dorie Greenspan. Photography © 2018 by Ellen Silverman. Reproduced by permission of Rux Martin Books/Houghton Mifflin Harcourt. All rights reserved.