Saturday, 6 July 2013

Poached Pears in Spiced Pomegranate Syrup

Recently, Mrs Bean informed me she was scared of poaching pears! WHY?! I asked, a little confused. My dear friend and co conspirator confessed that she had never done it, and after watching Masterchef was afraid of her fruit becoming too mushy or being too hard. I don't watch it and had not witnessed the torture this simple thing had created for the contestants. Forget those pompous sillies on Masterchef my dear. Poach away. And if it is a little too mushy, who cares. George  and Gary will not be there peering and prodding! Matt will not be tasting and tutting!  I shake my wooden spoon at you fellows, scaring good cooks from venturing into poaching! After watching me do it recently, she admitted it looked easy enough... So this is for you my dear Bean, have no fear!

I like poached fruit in winter, but I'm not a huge sweet tooth so overly sweet syrups don't appeal to me. I like putting seasonal fruit together, and since buerre bosc pears and pomegranates are currently in season, they matched together beautifully.  If you can't get hold of a pomegranate, you can substitute the pomegranate juice sold in the supermarket (you may have to omit the sugar or the syrup could be too sweet). Pomegranate molasses are usually available from Indian or Lebanese grocers, health food shops, or delis. This recipe has lovely sweet pears in a tangy, spiced syrup that will warm you to the toes. And if George or Gary or Matt happen to pop by for a poached pear, bat them away with your spoon!

Because the syrup is so tart, I didn't want the pears to lose any sweetness, hence the first cook in water. It also makes it easier to gauge how firm/soft they are, and not keep checking the fruit. By leaving them to continue cooking with the heat off means you don't have to worry about poking your fruit constantly so that they end up looking more like swiss cheese! Then you can finish them off later without the stress ( if you have watched Masterchef and also stress about poaching LOL).

4 buerre bosc pears
1/4 cup pomegranate molasses
1/4 cup water
juice from 1/2 pomegranate
seeds from 1/2 pomegranate
1 tablespoon brown sugar
1/4 tsp mixed spice
splash lemon juice

Fill a medium saucepan with water and a splash of lemon juice. Peel, halve, and core the pears. As you peel and core, slip them into the saucepan so they don't discolour. Make sure they are fully covered.
Bring the pan to the boil and leave the pears for approximately five minutes. Turn off the stove, and leave the pears for about 20 minutes in the saucepan. They will continue cooking as the water cools. Strain, and leave aside to cool completely. It is ok if at this point they are still a little firm, as you will heat again in syrup.
To make the syrup, but the water, molasses, pomegranate juice, sugar, and spice into a pan and bring to the boil. Turn down to low and put the pears back in, ensuring the syrup has been splashed all over them, and cover, leaving on a simmer for about 5 minutes. Test the pears with a skewer or tip of a knife, they should be soft enough to easily slide the knife tip or skewer in. If they are still hard, leave a little longer. Serve immediately as is, with fresh pomegranate seeds.

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