Poached Pears with Vanilla and Eau de Vie

second helpings of roast chickenYou may, if you wish, choose to serve these whole. However, I prefer to do away with the aesthetics of the thing and cut them in half, making quite sure that no trace of the pips or fibers remains. The best and nearest way to core pears is to use a small melon-baller. Serve the pears warm, rather than hot or cold. You will need a large bowl (preferably metal) that has been put in the freezer for 30 minutes.

Serves 4

6 firm William pears
pared rind and juice of 1 small lemon
5 tablespoons golden granulated sugar
1 vanilla pod, split lengthways
1 large glass of sweet white wine (a Muscat would be good)
1¼ cups water
4-5 tablespoons eau de vie de poires William

2/3 cup whipping cream, very well chilled
2/3 cup double cream, very well chilled
3 tablespoons confectioners' sugar
vanilla seeds scraped from a split 1/4 of a fresh vanilla pod

Peel the pears and cut them in half lengthways. Place in a bowl and sprinkle over the lemon juice, turning them over and around with your hands. Scoop the core out with the melon-baller, forming a neat hemisphere. Remove any fibers with a small knife. In a roomy stainless-steel or enameled pan mix together the lemon rind, sugar, vanilla pod, wine, and water. Bring to a simmer and cook gently for 5 minutes. Slip in the pears and poach for around 15-10 minutes or until just tender when pierced with knife; they should also look a little transparent. Add the eau de vie. Put a lid on and leave to cool to lukewarm, by which time the pears will be fully cooked.

Meanwhile, make the crème Chantilly. It is important that all is cold for this most lovely of whipped creams; this allows for any chance of the cream separating whilst being beaten. Put everything in the bowl and hand-whisk the cream using fruid motions until loosely thick, but on no account very thick. This does not take as long as you think it might. And it is a special further pleasure ot see the difference between hand-whisked and electrically aided beaten cream.


From Second Helpings of Roast Chicken by Simon Hopkinson. Copyright (c) 2008 Simon Hopkinson. Published by Hyperion. Available wherever books are sold. All Rights Reserved.