4 – 8 ripe, but firm, pears (Anjou and Bosc are good choices)
1 bottle fruity white wine such as a Reisling or Gewurtztraminer
(can substitute white grape juice if preferred)
½ – 1 cup sugar or honey depending on sweetness of wine or juice
1 Rain’s Choice Vanilla Bean, sliced lengthwise but still intact
1 cinnamon stick
4 allspice berries
4 black pepper berries
1 star anise
zest of 1 lemon
Carefully peel the pears, leaving stems intact if possible. Cut ¼ inch off the bottom of each pear so that they stand up more or less straight.
In a deep saucepan, combine the wine (or juice), sugar, spices and zest and bring to a boil. Reduce the heat to a high simmer and add pears. The poaching liquid should cover pears at least half-way. Add more water, juice or wine, if needed. Cover saucepan with a lid.
Poach pears for 15 – 30 minutes (time varies based on variety of pears and ripeness), basting them frequently.
When pears are tender when pierced with a knife, remove from the stove and allow pears to remain in the liquid until time to plate them unless you will be serving them right away. If making the pears ahead, remove them with a slotted spoon into a bowl.
Bring the liquid back to a boil and cook until the liquid is reduced by half and is slightly thicker.
Remove liquid from the stove and strain out the spices and vanilla bean. Rinse and save vanilla bean for another use. Pour liquid over pears.
Serve warmed or at room temperature with syrup. Serve ice cream, Creme Anglaise or whipped cream on the side if you wish.