Poached pears may be one of the easiest desserts to pull off, requiring very little preparation. Just peel a couple of pears, shove them into a pot, cover them in some flavored liquid. The problem is, if you’re doing just a few, you may need a lot of liquid to get them fully submerged. Also, you’ll have to watch out for evaporation, which may lead to uneven cooking, and this can make the task really tedious.
Pretty similar to marinating meat, you’ll get a more even distribution, given just a little amount of liquid, if poaching these pears in a bag – with sous vide cooking, this of course is possible.
Okay, so let’s make a flavored poaching broth. A simple syrup will do, but I’ve infused mine with some fresh-flavored spices. Ginger, lemongrass, star anise, black peppercorns, and green cardamom pods would certainly give a fragrance that will perfectly complement the light flavor of pears.
We’re infusing these spices within a relatively short amount of time, so be sure to prepare them accordingly – slice the gingers thin and bruise those lemongrass stalks a bit.
While the spices in the pot are simmering, have your pears ready. Peel them and optionally buff them off lightly with some kitchen pads if you want smoother surfaces. Have a bowl of acidulated water to keep the pears from oxidizing. A tablespoon of lemon juice or vinegar should be enough to treat a bowl of water.
Pre-heat your water bath to 180F.
Get the pears and poaching liquid into a sous vide bag. Though unnecessary, straining your liquid will keep those spices from possibly blemishing the pears.
I ended up with barely a cup of poaching liquid. Something totally impossible with poaching pears the traditional way.
Get the bag submerged in the pot, cooking them for about 2 hours. This cooking time would totally depend on the ripeness state of the pears you’re using. You may want to check after about an hour and a half. Just raise the bag out of the water and press lightly on the pears. They should feel tender enough but should still easily hold their structure.
When the pears are done, you may actually serve them right away, with that syrup in the bag as an excellent topping.
I tried getting a bit fancy(thinking presentation) so I took that liquid left in the bag, reduced it a bit in a saucepan, and set it with some gelatine powder.
Pour the jelly into a mold or directly into your serving containers and give it a few minutes to set. You may also put it inside the refrigerator to speed things up.
Serve the pears with this jelly and whatever addition you like. A simple syrup, some whipped cream, ice cream are all good options.
These pears turned out really tender but still with a bit of crunch.
I really don’t do poached pears a lot due to the large quantity of poaching liquid I have to prepare. Now that there’s a more economical way, I may serve this dessert much more often.