These are nowhere near canned pears (at the other end of the pear spectrum) which certainly leave something to be desired.
When poaching pears, you must be careful which pears you choose to poach.
Like apples, some pears are better for certain things than others. For example, there are certain apples you wouldn't want to bake in a pie because they would break down too much. Golden Delicious apples would become applesauce (personally, it's not what I'm looking for in a pie).
The same goes for pears.
While Bartletts may be great for eating out of hand, they would sort of disintegrate if cooked.
Boscs on the other hand are more firm and will hold up quite nicely when poached.
Plus they have an elegant shape (when it comes to pears at least).
The big secret to giving the pears a brilliant shade of red?
Really. The beet helps to add some drama. No flavor, just drama.
So, in addition to looking festive, they smell like Christmas. And the taste is a little bit flowery.
The pears can be served as they are- in their syrup, with vanilla ice cream, with whipped cream...
Or even with a warm chocolate sauce and a thick whipped cream/mascarpone combination.
Scarlet Poached Pears
Generously adapted from Gourmet, September 2008
serves 6 to 12
6 firm, ripe Bosc pears
1 bottle Pinot Grigio
1/3 c Cointreau
3, 3-inch pieces of orange zest (removed from the orange with a vegetable peeler)
juice of one orange
1/4 c sugar
1/2 vanilla bean, cut lengthwise and seeds scraped
1 stick of cinnamon
2 bay leaves
1 medium beet, peeled and quartered
Peel and halve the pears lengthwise, then use a melon baller or a round teaspoon measure to remove the core and cut the woody stem from the inside of the pear using a knife. Set aside.
To a medium saucepan, add the wine, Cointreau, orange juice, sugar, vanilla bean and seeds, cinnamon, bay leaves, and beet. Stir to dissolve the sugar and bring the mixture to a boil. Add the prepared pear halves and reduce the heat to a simmer. Cover with a round of parchment paper (so they pears stay relatively covered, but the syrup is still able to reduce), and cook about 40 minutes.
Remove the pieces of beet and pour the pears and syrup into a bowl to steep and cool completely.
Serve as desired.