Fall is the perfect time for pears and cranberries. These cranberry and red wine poached pears are a perfect dessert to kick off the season. They are bound to impress your dinner guests.
Have you ever wanted a dessert that looks like you took ages to make it but took very little effort? These poached pears are the perfect solution. Just peel them and pour the liquid over and bake. That’s it! Additionally these can be eaten by themselves providing a a very light dessert or you can slice them in half or quarters and serve on a pastry or a light cake. They are best served cold. Ice cream or crème fraiche works well with these also.
In this recipe
The cranberries and pears are the star of the show. With the addition of the red wine the pears take on a lovely burgundy color and additional depth of flavor. When choosing a wine you will want a wine like cabernet sauvignon, pinot noir, merlot, or zinfandel. By using whole cloves and a cinnamon stick you will get nice and subtle flavors without either becoming too overpowering.
Why Bosc pears?
This recipe uses Bosc pears. It is important to use these pears versus D’Anjou and Bartlett. The reason for this is that these other pears don’t hold their shape as well. Bartlett pears especially tend to break down when cooked so you might end up with pear mush. When choosing a pear you want them firm with little bruising.
Choosing the right wine
There are a few good wine choices for making poached pears. One of the most important things to remember first is to always use wine that you would enjoy before cooking with it.
Cabernet Sauvignon: It has a low sugar content and is easily accessible. It is a great all-around and go-to wine for cooking a baking.
Pinot Noir: This is a lighter red wine so it will not over power the cranberries and other flavors in the poaching liquid. It is a great wine for pears.
Zinfandel: These wines can be fruity or jammy which is a great compliment to the pears and cranberries. It can also have more rich and unique flavors like tobacco which will give the pears and incredible depth of flavor.
Merlot: This tends to be a fruit forward wine which compliments this recipe well. Like a cabernet it is easily accessible. This wine is great for reducing which is what we will be doing in this recipe.
Making poached pears
Poaching is a method of cooking that submerges food either partially or fully in a liquid. This is a gentle way of cooking the food that might be prone to fall apart using other methods. The poaching liquid will add the flavor to the food so it is important to have a well flavored liquid.
In order to get the most intense flavors possible for these pears it is important to let the poaching liquid reduce before adding it to the pears. The poaching liquid might not cover the whole pear and that is ok. Occasionally baste the pears with the poaching liquid.
As time goes on you will notice the pears getting darker in color. Once they are tender enough that a fork or toothpick goes in easily they are done. They should still be firm.
You can serve these warm or at room temperature, however I like them chilled. Mainly because it give the pears more time to develop flavors and they are just a little more firm when serving this way.
Looking for other pear recipes?
Cranberry and Red Wine Poached Pears
- Dutch oven
- Potato peeler
- 8 Bosc pears
- 2 cups cranberries fresh or frozen
- 2 cups red wine
- 2 cups water
- 1 cinnamon stick
- 6 whole cloves
- ⅔ cup brown sugar
- ½ cup sugar
- 1 tablespoon lemon zest
- Preheat the oven to 350° or gas mark 4.
- In a saucepan add the sugars, wine, water, lemon zest, cinnamon stick, cranberries and cloves. Bring to a boil and reduce the liquid to 4 cups about 10 minutes.
- While the poaching liquid is reducing, using a sharp knife or potato peeler remove the skin of the pears as thinly as possible. Slice off a small amount of bottom of the pear just so it stands up when set in the Dutch oven.
- In the Dutch oven add all of the pears and then pour the poaching liquid over the pears. The liquid may not cover the pears and that is ok. Baste the pears every 15 minutes. Bake until a fork or toothpick easily pierces the pear. The pear should still be a little firm, about an hour.
- Strain the poaching liquid. This can be reduced to a thicker sauce to become a glaze or can be served with the pear as is.