A red wine-poached pear takes on a velvety texture and ruby-red tint. Spices, like black peppercorns, cloves, and cinnamon, add a mulled taste to the poaching brew, while lemon peel gives it a fresh, citrusy note. The pears become so tender and infused with flavor that you don’t even need to top them with ice cream if you’re looking for a lighter dessert – but the combo of the warm poached pear, good-quality vanilla ice cream, and sweet poaching syrup is hard to beat. The poached pears can be refrigerated in the poaching liquid for up to two days.

Pears Al Vino Tinto

Ingredients

3 cups Red Wine – such as a pinot noir
1 cup Sugar
3 whole Black Peppercorns
3 whole Cloves
3 ½-inch-wide strips lemon peel
1 Cinnamon Stick
4 ripe Bartlett or Bosc pears, peeled, halved, and cored
1 pint Vanilla Ice Cream (optional)
½ teaspoon freshly grated Nutmeg

Preparation

1. Bring the red wine, sugar, peppercorns, cloves, lemon strips, cinnamon stick, and ½ cup of water to a boil in a large pot over high heat, stirring occasionally to dissolve the sugar, about 5 minutes. Reduce the heat to medium-low and simmer the mixture until slightly reduced, about 2 minutes.

2. Add the pears and simmer until they’re tender and a paring knife easily slips into the center, about 15 minutes. Use a slotted spoon to transfer the pears to a large bowl and set aside.

3. Remove and discard the peppercorns, cloves, lemon peel, and cinnamon stick. Continue to simmer the poaching liquid over medium-low heat until it is reduced by half and is the consistency of thick syrup, about 30 minutes.

4. Return the pears to the thick poaching liquid and heat for 1 minute, basting the pears with the syrup. Turn off the heat and place 2 pear halves in the center of each plate or bowl. Drizzle the pears with 2 tablespoons each of the poaching syrup, and then top with a scoop of vanilla ice cream, if using, and a pinch of nutmeg.

About the Chef

Recently featured on The Biggest Loser, The Next Great American Restaurant and as a judge on Top Chef, Lorena Garcia is one of the country’s leading Latin Chefs. Her new cookbook, New Latin Classics: Fresh Ideas on Favorite Dishes was just released in September 2011 and offers simple 30-Minute Latin meals with a healthy twist. These recipes allow you to minimize your time in the kitchen and maximize time around the table with family and friends.

*Recipe and image courtesy of Chef Lorena Garcia.*