Instant Pot™ Spiced, Poached Pears in Red Wine
Poached pears in red wine has to be the ultimate, cozy cool weather dessert. Paired with warming spices, and poached in the Instant Pot™, it’s easy too. This elegant dessert is ready with limited effort in under an hour.
Pears are surely the unsung heroes of the winter fruit world. Here in Johannesburg, they’re available all winter long, and we seem to have infinite varieties in our markets. While we may nibble on them, or toss them in wintry salads, we often forget what a wonderful canvas pears can be, and how many flavours they complement beautifully.
Growing up on Maryland’s Eastern Shore, we didn’t have the luxury of so many beautiful pears. However, fruit desserts — involving apples, pears or fruits put up the previous summer — were a mainstay of our winter tables.
Poached pears in red wine have always been one of my favourites. These ruby-hued pears looks so regal when they arrive at the table. Plus, the reduced syrup makes the dessert feel decadent, although it’s still reasonably healthy.
If you’re in the mood for a celebration, a trickle of cream, or a scoop of vanilla ice cream rounds out this dessert beautifully. It also swirls into the syrup to create a luscious, dreamy blend.
Which Pears Should I Use?
When preparing poached pears, select fruit that is ripe, but not over-ripe. Pears should not be too soft prior to poaching, or they will tend to fall apart when cooked.
It is also important to consider the variety of fruit, because some varieties hold their shape better than others. I chose Forelle pears for their diminutive stature and easy availability. However, other varieties that are suitable for poaching include Bosc, Anjou, and French Butter pears.
Unfortunately, some other varieties are not as well-suited to cooking. For instance, I would not recommend Bartlett pears. They would be lovely in a sauce, pie or a cobbler. However, they tend to fall apart when cooked, making them a poor choice for poaching.
Why Use the Instant Pot™?
The Instant Pot™ is an electric pressure cooker (among other things). Pressure cooking cuts down cooking time and preserves the nutrient content of various foods.
Moreover, you’ll find that some foods are more flavourful when they’re prepared under pressure. The pressure in the pot tends to naturally infuse foods with more flavour. Spices will seem more pronounced, and even the flavours of individual foods remain a bit more intense than with traditional cooking methods.
I like the Instant Pot™ for it’s safety, ease of use, and the fact that I can program it and leave it on autopilot. However, another electric pressure cooker, or even a stove top pressure cooker will work equally well. Simply follow the manufacturer’s instructions for the appliance you are using. Either way, when it comes to poached pears, pressure cooking is a huge time saver.
About the Recipe
One of my favourite things about poached pears is their versatility. Pears act as a fragrant canvas for any number of flavours and colours.
Although this recipe uses red wine, it’s not alcoholic. All of the alcohol cooks out of the wine as you prepare the dish. However, if you are uncomfortable using red wine, try pomegranate juice as a pretty and flavourful alternative.
I have seasoned these pears with the ingredients I like to use for apple cider. However, I sincerely hope you will use this flavour profile as a jumping off point and an excuse to start creating your own, unique flavours. Other spices that taste delicious in poached pears include:
- star anise
- fennel, and
Most important, I hope you and your family enjoy these poached pears in red wine every bit as much as mine does. Bon appétit!