Consuming fruit in the dead of winter is a difficult task.
Every week I stand in the produce section of the grocery store contemplating the colorful apples and citrus fruits magnificently displayed to entice, however, I often find myself choosing one or two varieties out of politeness rather than the desire to actually eat them.
The issue is not that winter fruit doesn’t taste good. I rather enjoy freshly squeezed grapefruit juice and a deliciously sweet clementine makes for a great snack. Unlike the long hot days of summer, however, the yearning to eat my weight in fresh fruit simply doesn’t exist. When the sky is gray and the wind is bone chillingly cold, I long for hot tea and cookies, decadently rich hot chocolate with marshmallows or after dinner desserts that require wallowing on the sofa with the top button of my jeans undone.
This winter I wanted to find a new way in which to appreciate the season’s bounty.
After picking up some Anjou pears when they first made an appearance in the supermarket late last year, I decided to experiment with poaching this often lackluster produce. Having poached pears in red wine on several occasions, I wanted something a little less obvious than the richness of warm, mulled wine.
The spiced Sherry definitely gave the poached pears a different character; the amber liquid was wonderfully aromatic with hints of toasted nuts and jammy fig-like flavors. The pears themselves were subtly tainted with the complexities of the poaching liquid and were quite delicious without an accompaniment. Creamy Greek yoghurt was a great addition for a lighter dessert, however, my personal favorite was a baked crumbly topping of butter and oats, a dollop of vanilla bean ice cream and a drizzle of the spiced Sherry after it had been reduced to a sweet, viscous sauce.
Now I’m not suggesting for a single second that this gently cooked winter fruit is good for you, gosh no. Sherry is guilty of hiding a relatively high sugar content behind its alcohol, especially the pale cream, cream and Pedro Ximénez varieties. In addition, baking the pears with a crumble topping as suggested will definitely see one migrating to the sofa in comfy pants positively satisfied yet overly full.
With that being said, however, my goal was simply to uncover an appreciation for the season’s readily available fruit. While this recipe may not be great for the waistline, it most definitely has me excited to peruse the produce aisle with enthusiasm throughout the bleak winter months. I hope it does the same for you!
This recipe works wonderfully with Anjou pears. Bartlett and Bosc pears work nicely also and are typically at their best through early spring.
Images courtesy of Jodi & Kurt Photography
- 4 cups (950ml/32 fl oz) cream Sherry
- 1 cinnamon stick
- 3 whole cloves
- 5 tablespoons light brown sugar
- 6 firm pears, peeled
- Combine all of the ingredients in a saucepan with the exception of the pears. Be sure to choose a saucepan that will accommodate the fruit, liquid, sugar and spices.
- Over a gentle heat, bring the Sherry, spices and sugar to a gentle simmer.
- When the liquid is simmering, carefully submerge the peeled pears into the saucepan. Make sure the pears are completely covered before placing a circle of parchment paper on top of the fruit and Sherry mixture.
- Simmer gently for approximately 20 minutes or until the pears have softened.
- Remove the pears from the liquid and place in an airtight container.
- Pour the hot spiced Sherry over the pears and allow to cool. If desired, the pears can be eaten warm. Alternatively, place them in the refrigerator overnight for the flavors to intensify.
- Pears can be stored in the fridge for up to one week.