Pears in red wine and cassis
This is one of my favorite desserts — simple, quick and light. For best results, choose firm pears that won’t fall apart while cooking. In France, I prefer the variety known as Conférence, pictured below. As for the wine, Beaujolais is traditional but any drinkable dry to fruity red is fine.
This version of poires au vin is adapted from the recipes of two of my favorite cookbook authors, Patricia Wells and Paul Bocuse, with a dash of insider knowledge from Burgundy, where I have a cottage — and a pear tree.
1 bottle of red wine
2/3 cup (15 dl) crème de cassis
1/2 cup (100 g.) sugar
1 sprig rosemary
1 vanilla bean or 1 packet vanilla sugar or 1 tsp. vanilla extract
2 tbsp. freshly squeezed lemon juice or orange juice
6 black peppercorns
Peel the pears very carefully using a vegetable peeler. Leave the stems intact.
Transfer the pears to a large pot. Pour in the wine and cassis. Add the other ingredients — if using a vanilla bean, split it lengthwise first.
Bring to a simmer. Cook for 30 minutes, turning the pears gently with a wooden spoon from time to time to ensure that they are evenly coated with wine.
Remove from heat, leaving the pears in the wine while they cool.
Transfer the pears to a large ceramic or glass bowl, being careful not to dent them. Place a sieve over the bowl. Pour the wine through the sieve to filter it. Place the pears in the refrigerator for at least a few hours — overnight is better.
Remove the pears from the fridge an hour or two before serving to allow them to reach room temperature. Serve whole in shallow bowls. Serves 6.
For a delightful variation, slice the cooked pears and serve them over vanilla ice cream.