It’s time again for the customary poached pear recipe. I know there are a ton of them on the internet, but wait till I put my two cents in.
I was sitting on a packet of hibiscus petals that I’m sure I must have ordered for a recipe long ago, but I had no use for after. This seemed like a good opportunity to clear some space in my larder and poach an entire bunch of different pears I bought from Dadar market two weeks ago. While your standard green pears with fat bottoms work great here, you could also use the light yellow ones as they are crisper and have texture or red pears, which while soft and ripe, are also slightly tart.
Poaching fruit is also a great way to keep them around longer. Think about this- you’re plating some poached fruit for your friends, which if not polished off for dinner will be carried on to a really good lunch salad with peppery arugula and nuts the next day.
The poaching liquid for the pears benefits from a generous bit of spice, as does everything, so activate your sweet spices- ginger, cloves, cinnamon, but also add a few peppercorns because this makes for a great poaching liquid. If you’re left with extra hibiscus poaching liquid, make iced tea, or add a teaspoon of it to a wine flute and top with Chandon Delice.
My biggest grouse with poached pear recipes is that the syrup is often intensely sweet and there’s nothing to cut though that, except maybe cream, but what if there was? Sumac’s bright lemony punch really adds that extra bit of magic to an already elegant dessert. Serve on a bed of yoghurt and spoon over extra syrup. It doesn’t need much to shine. Alternately, you could serve it with a quenelle of ice cream and a smattering of lightly toasted nuts.
Hibiscus and Sumac Poached Pears
Yield 4 portions
Dried hibiscus petals make a ruby red poaching liquid for seasonal pears that are finished with punchy sumac to cut through the sweet syrup.
Hibiscus petals 2 tbsp
Black peppercorns 3
Granulated sugar 200g
Ginger 1-inch piece, grated
Cinnamon 1 quill, broken (optional)
Pears 4, peeled
Sumac 1-2 tsp, for dusting (try Al Fez, available at gourmet food stores)
Bring half a litre of water, the sugar and the whole spices together in a saucepan large enough to fit the pears and bring up to a boil. Once it’s boiling, turn the heat down to a low simmer and leave for 15 minutes for all the flavours to blend into each other
Add the pears to the now deep-pink poaching liquid, put a lid on, and let the pears poach for 15-20 minutes undisturbed. Check with a knife after 15 minutes to see if it yields easily. If it does, drain the pears. If not, cook it for five more minutes till the pears are soft.
Over medium-high heat continue to reduce the syrup till it has thickened to a syrup.
To plate, serve each pear on a bed of yoghurt or with whipped cream and dust with sumac.