Poaching is a simple cooking technique used for things which need to be cooked gently, either because they are very tender or because they cook really quickly. Poaching is very forgiving in terms of slowly cooking things to the point of being perfectly done.
Tree fruits are often good poached. The low heat of poaching allows you to cook them slowly so you can determine when they are just soft enough to pierce with a fork, but not so soft that they begin to fall apart.
I also like to include a little savory flavor with my sweets, so I added just a pinch of smoked cayenne pepper to this dish. I think your friends and family will enjoy the surprise!
If you don’t have pears on hand, apples will work just as well in this recipe.
- 1 quart water
- 1 Tbsp apple cider vinegar (BelleWood Acres, Lynden)
- ⅓ cup raw honey (Backyard Bees, Custer)
- 2 tsp fresh mint, minced (home garden, Lummi Island)
- 4 Bosc pears (friend's orchard, Gooseberry Point)
- Pinch of smoked cayenne pepper, finely minced (Rabbit Fields Farm, Everson)
- Put the water, vinegar, honey, and mint into a saucepan and put near your cutting board.
- Peel and core the pears, and cut into quarters. Put quarters into the saucepan as you go so the cut pears won't turn brown from exposure to air.
- When all pears are in the pan, place the pan on the stove over high heat. Watch pan carefully. When it just begins to boil, reduce the heat to medium, or until the liquid barely continues to boil.
- Poach pears for about 15 minutes or so, until soft enough that a sharp knife can easily pierce a pear slice.
- Remove pears from the liquid.
- If desired, you can turn up the heat again on the remaining liquid and boil until it is reduced by at least half, or until it reaches the desired consistency. This will make a nicely flavored sauce to drizzle over the pears. Alternatively, you could drizzle with a small amount of warmed honey.
- Sprinkle pears with a little smoked pepper just before serving.