Mulled Wine Poached Pears

Mulled-Wine-Poached-PearThanksgiving is coming up, with the other winter holidays not far behind. That means it’s fancy food time!

I made poached pears with mascarpone for New Year’s Eve a few years ago. Charles and I loved them. They were so rich and decadent — a wonderful way to ring in the new year. It was a recipe I wanted to revisit, but when it came to finding the original, I couldn’t locate it. Google gave me many options, but none of them were exactly what I had done before. So, as I do so often anyway, I decided to make it my own.

We just received our final Farm to Table shipment from Pennyroyal for the 2014 season, and I thought using some of my coveted Laychee cheese for poached pears would be amazing. It truly was. I poached the pears in Sobon Estate’s Old Vines Zinfandel. Its fruit-forward richness was a perfect choice to go with the pears and spices. Remember, never cook with a wine that you wouldn’t drink, but make sure its characteristics will compliment the other flavors in the food — much like choosing a wine for pairing.

For more ideas for Thanksgiving, check out Cranberry Chutney, Drunk Ruby Turkey, Kuri Squash and Bacon Soup, and from my other blog, An Oops Makes a Great Turkey, and My Favorite Green Beans. Please don’t judge some of those photos — many of those posts are from a few years ago. 😉

Mulled Wine Poached Pears

Serves 6

6 Bosc pears, peeled (but keep the stems)
1 bottle red wine
1 1/2 cups coconut sugar
1 Tablespoon mulling spice (I actually used Garam Masala because I love it so.)
pinch of powdered ginger
pinch of salt

4 ounces heavy whipping cream
3/4 cup Laychee or Mascarpone cheese
vanilla bean, split and insides scraped into a bowl.

Put wine, sugar, spices, salt, and the remains of the vanilla bean in a large sauce pan over medium heat. Stir until sugar dissolves. Add pears and bring to a simmer. Cook for 40 minutes, turning the pears every ten minutes so they get a lovely, uniform red.
Remove pears and continue to cook the liquid. Reduce the liquid until it’s syrupy. You can use this for ice cream or any other dessert where a syrup would be a nice addition.
When pears have cooled, take out the stems and set aside. Core the pears with an apple corer, or like I did, with your peeler. (This is the one I have.)

Add whipping cream and cheese to the bowl with the vanilla bean innards. Stir with a rubber spatula until well blended, then scrape into a reclosable bag. Cut a corner off the bag and pipe the cheese mixture into the pear. Place the stem back on the top for a pretty presentation.

Drunk Ruby Turkey

I’ve been a brining convert for the last few years. I find that it helps deal with a few of the oopses that can occur when cooking a very large bird. Brining fills the meat with flavor, no worries about missing a spot when seasoning. It helps keep the turkey moist and juicy — even if you leave it in the oven a tad too long. It helps make the skin crispy, too, as you don’t need to worry about baking bags and the like. Plus, you can kiss that baster goodbye because there’s still plenty of the juices left in the bird — you don’t have to continuously drizzle them back on. All that said, I do like to mix up the recipe each year so that the turkey on the Thanksgiving table keeps people oohing and ahhing. For 2012, I used a brine with lots of red ingredients, making for one beautifully roasted bird.

Drunk Ruby Turkey

1 turkey
4 cups (32 oz) cranberry juice
2 bottles red wine (I used a good quality boxed wine so I had extra, just in case.)
zest and juice from 4 oranges
zest and juice from 4 lemons
2 cups cranberries
4 stalks lemongrass, chopped
1/2 cup fresh ginger, grated
1/2 cup fresh mint, chopped (I ended up using a dried bunch that I had hung this summer.)
5 Tbsp. whole, mixed peppercorns
2 Tbsp. kosher salt

At least 8 hours before serving, place all ingredients in a stock pot that is large enough to hold the turkey and liquid. Cover and refrigerate.
When ready to cook, preheat oven to 400°.
Pour brining liquid through a sieve. Discard liquid and put solids in turkey cavity.
Place turkey, breast side up, in a large pan with a metal cooling rack set inside, and cook until meat thermometer reads 165 degrees F. Turn the bird over 1 hour in so that juices drain into the breast and the entire turkey gets crispy.
Let the turkey rest on the counter for 20 to 30 minutes before carving.

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