This is a favorite at the Villa. As you see in the picture, the pears are frankly decadent with a soft gorgonzola (or other soft blue cheese, I suppose) and a glass of port.
Poached Pears With Marsala And Spices
Yield: 6 servings
Prep time: 5 min
Cook time: 70 min
2 c. dry Marsala
2 c. water
3/4 c. sugar
2 t. vanilla extract
2 cinnamon sticks
4 allspice berries
2 long strips of orange peel
6 Bosc pears, peeled, halved, and cored
Mix all ingredients except pears in a large, heavy saucepan. Bring to boil over high heat, stirring, until sugar dissolves.
Add pears, reduce heat to med-low, and cover. Simmer about 40 min, turning pears occasionally, until fork-tender.
Remove pears to a different container and raise heat slightly. Boil syrup for 10-15 min, until reduced to just over a cup.
Pour over pears.
Place one or two pear halves in a bowl. Spoon some sauce over it and top with a dollop of soft gorgonzola.
Or as an alternative to the cheese, drizzle with a dark chocolate sauce.
Serve with a nice port.
If you have sweet Marsala instead of dry, reduce the sugar to 1/4 c. Or get some dry Marsala.
Be sure to reduce the syrup until it’s syrupy. I’ve tried to rush it once or twice, and it just isn’t the same.
What size pears? About 6-8 oz. is ideal, but it’s really up to you. Just don’t get a soft kind which will fall apart on you.
You can leave the pears whole and the stems attached, which is elegant looking but a bit of a nuisance to eat.
The vanilla extract can be switched for 2 vanilla beans that have been split lengthwise. The tiny seeds will add interesting visual texture and a great flavor. This is a good option, especially with the chocolate mentioned above.
These can be made a day ahead of time, chilled, and served cold. They’re very nice that way.