Wine Poached Pears in Spiced Red Wine
6 firm yet ripe pears, about 2 lbs total weight
1 bottle dry, fruity red wine.
1/2 to 3/4 cup (4-6 oz/125-185g) sugar
1 cinnamon stick
3 tbsp brandy or Cognac
¼ tsp vanilla extract
2-3 tbsp Port or crème de cassis
Fresh lemon juice, as needed
Cut a thin slice off the bottom of each pear, then carefully core it from bottom. Leave the stem intact. Peel the pears and place them on their sides in a heavy saucepan.
Add the wine, ½ cup (4 oz/125g) of the sugar, cinnamon stick and brandy. Bring to a boil. Reduce heat to low, cover and simmer gently, about 10 minutes. Turn the pears and simmer, covered, just until tender when pierced with a skewer, approximately 20-25 minutes. Using a slotted spoon, transfer the pears to a bowl.
Return the poaching liquid to a boil and cook until reduced to a syrup, approximately 15-20 minutes. Watch carefully to avoid scorching. Taste and add the remaining sugar if needed. Heat, stirring to dissolve sugar, then add the vanilla, Port and lemon juice. To serve, stand the pears upright and drizzle with the hot syrup. Alternatively, cover and refrigerate pears and syrup, then serve chilled.