If you're like us, you look to the seasons for what to cook. Get to the market, and we'll show you what to do with your haul.
Today: A triple threat dessert -- the answer to last-minute requests, the reason to add just one more thing to your holiday spread, and a perfect anytime sweet.
You have just over twenty-four hours until Thanksgiving, and dessert is going one of two ways. In scenario 1 we have those of you who've had your pies planned out since last week -- and mised since yesterday. (Is your dough chilling in the freezer right now? If yes, you are scenario 1.) The rest of you have forgotten entirely about dessert, or were just asked to bring it, and have nothing up your sleeve, no time for pie, no patience for chilling or rolling or crimping.
All of you, listen up: Get to the grocery store, and walk past the bramble of people fighting for that last can of pumpkin. Smile smugly. You're going to poach some pears.
This recipe is quick enough to add to your already-planned spread, simple enough to whip together if you're starting from scratch, and enough of a stunner that what little time you do spend over the stove (spoiler: it'll be 30 minutes) will be worth it.
The truth about poached pears is that they ask nearly nothing of you. They're partial to being poached in almost anything: You could lower them into a warm bath of honey and white wine, or Lillet and lemons, or, hell, sweetened, spiced water if you wanted. Poached pears are agreeable, seemingly mousy.
This version -- fruity red wine spiked with orange peel and thyme -- is festive. Striking. A little attention-stealing. You peel your pears gingerly, and then they swim in a winey broth until tender. And then, much like that scene in every 90s chick flick, the once-homely pear emerges from the poaching liquid -- dramatically -- wearing a skin-tight red dress, glasses gone, an unrecognizable beauty.
I think they call that low investment, high return.
Tomorrow, when your guests are finally tired of turkey and cranberry sauce and stuffing, and you're finally tired of cooking, you will cut the leftover pears up, and you will put them in grilled cheese sandwiches. You'll tuck into one, and you'll smile again, knowing that this recipe is now, safely and snugly, up your sleeve.
4 cups red wine
1 1/2 cups sugar
2 cups water
1 cup orange juice
Peels from 1 orange
2 cinnamon sticks
6 firm but ripe pears, peeled, cored, stems left intact (or just peeled)
Photos by Eric Moran