What is poaching?
Uses a small amount of water that has been flavoured with savoury ingredients or sugar and spices, in which the ingredient being poached is submerged in the poaching liquid and cooked very slowly. Food cooked this way stays beautifully moist.
Poached pears in vanilla syrup
4 pears, flavourful but not too ripe
150ml / ¼ pint water
1 vanilla pod
1. Peel the pears and slice each one in half. Using a teaspoon, gently scoop out the core and pips.
2. Place the prepared pears in a bowl of water to which a little lemon juice has been added. This stops the pears from oxidising and going brown.
3. Place the water in a saucepan. Scrape the seeds from the vanilla pod and add these, as well the pod, to water and bring to the boil.
4. Reduce the heat and gently place the pears in the poaching vanilla flavoured water. Bring back up to the boil. The pears should be covered, but the less water used, the more flavourful the syrup will be at the end of the cooking process. Just by cooking the pears in the vanilla flavoured water, a very flavourful sweet syrup will result.
5. Reduce the heat again and allow the pears to simmer away until cooked.
6. Test by inserting a skewer or sharp knife into the pear – if there is little resistance then they are cooked through. Different types of pears require different lengths
of cooking time.
7. Remove the pears from the pan.
8. If there is a lot of juice (i.e. poaching liquid) remaining, continue to cook this until well reduced and of a syrupy consistency. Pour over the pears and allow to cool.
Instead of using water, wine or Sauternes can be used and will become even sweeter as the pear juice is released into the poaching liquid.