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Poached Pears

A really easy, prepare in advance and looks great as you serve everyone their individual pear.  Healthy pears have Vitamin C, fibre and Potassium. Poaching them in wine allows the alcohol to evaporate so it’s all of the pleasure and none of the pain. Choose between red wine or sweet white wine. Which team are you?

Prep: 20 mins

Cook: 30 mins (plus cooling time if serving cold)

Serves: 6 

Pears poached in sauternes.jpeg

Pears poached in Wine

Sally's version - ​In Red Wine

A really easy, prepare in advance and impressive dish. Healthy pears have Vitamin C, fibre and Potassium. Poaching them in wine allows the alcohol to evaporate so it’s all of the pleasure and none of the pain. 


vanilla pod

pears, peeled, kept whole and with stalk intact

1 bottle red wine (or less if using leftover wine and you can mix bottles if have a couple with some left)

225g caster sugar

cinnamon stick, halved

 Sprig of fresh thyme , plus more sprigs to serve


Halve the vanilla pod lengthways, scrape out the black seeds and put in a large saucepan with the wine, sugar, cinnamon and thyme. Cut each piece of pod into three long thin strips, add to pan, then lower in the pears.​

Poach the pears, covered with a lid, for 20-30 mins, making sure they are covered in the wine. The cooking time will very much depend on the ripeness of your pears – they should be tender all the way through when pierced with a cocktail stick. You can make these up to 2 days ahead and chill.​

Take the pears from the pan, then boil the liquid to reduce it by half so that it’s syrupy. Serve each pear with the cooled syrup, a strip of vanilla, a piece of cinnamon and a small thyme sprig.​

Wendy's version - In Sweet White Wine

Don’t use our Chateau d’Yquem for this!  Use a more affordable Sauternes such as a second wine such as Petit Guiraud or Lieutenant de Sigalas,  a Cérons or even Monbazillac – over the border from Bordeaux but we’ll let it go. Save a glass for the cook.  The sweetness means you don’t need to add any sugar to the cooking liquid,  adding some spices just heightens the lovely spicy aromas we find in the wine. 


·       6 large pears, Anjou William or Conference all work well but whatever you can find in                the market– just not over ripe 

·       2 lemons, juice expressed and pared zest  

·       1 bottle 75 cl Sauternes

·       4 whole cloves

·       1  split vanilla pod  

·       1 cinnamon stick, 

·       Toasted almonds for topping



Thinly peel the pears to preserve their shape, leaving a margin of skin around the base of the stem. Remove the zest from the lemons and squeeze to express the juice. Toss the peeled pears in lemon juice, to prevent them turning brown.


Combine the Sauternes, lemons zest and spices in a pan big enough to hold the liquid and pears. Bring to a boil on medium heat then add the pears.

When the liquid returns to a simmer, reduce the heat to low and cook until the pears are tender. This should take 8-10 minutes. Carefully, remove the pears and set aside. 


Drain the cooking liquid and boil to reduce for 8-10 minutes. Remove from the heat and let the liquid cool slightly.

Place the pears on individual dishes, add 2-3 tablespoons of the poached liquid. Sprinkle with toasted almonds flakes.


To serve?  A glass of Sauternes of course. 


The obvious ones are a really good vanilla or chocolate ice cream or cocoa sorbet, crème fraîche or whipped cream either as it is or flavoured with some ground seeds from cardamom pods.

Trying to be a little healthier? Then try with coconut milk yoghurt or greek-style dairy yoghurt, or whip a little kefir into the cream to lighten it up but also give an acidic note which is a great foil to the sweetness.

If you have left over poached pears, slice and serve them chilled, crumble some feta cheese over them, it works as an original cheese course. Blue cheese such as Roquefort or Stilton work really well with the Sauternes poached pears. Serve on a bed of rocket leaves and a walnut oil vinaigrette. 

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