Wednesday, December 16, 2009

I don't have anything to whine about... because I have my wine

My love affair with red wine started with a $5 bottle of Barefoot Merlot accompanied by very garlicky mashed potatoes. Since then I have learned to prepare my garlic mashed potatoes with a more balanced flavor and have graduated from Merlot to pretty much any other varietal of red. I don’t often have a Merlot that is pleasing to my pallet so I stick with Chianti, Cabernet Sauvignon, Syrah, or anything that has a red hue, but if it says Merlot I steer clear. The one thing that has remained constant from that first foray into the red wine world is the price. I don’t know the last time I paid more than $10 for a bottle of wine. I am tempted, the names or labels are what catch my eye, but my experience has taught me that a $6.99 bottle from Trader Joes can be a pretty satisfying experience. This being said my husband and I were treated to dinner by a distributor he works with and at this dinner we consumed a very nice, very expensive red wine. I don’t know what the cost, varietal, or producer was but it was definitely not $6.99. So there is a place in my heart for a fabulous, pricey wine but I am devoted to my Trader Joes budget buys.

The recipe I am sharing with you this week is a dessert, Wine Poached Pears. When the pears are finished serve them with a triple cream blue cheese (also found at Trader Joes) and a glass of the same wine you used for poaching liquid, you’ll need to buy two bottles then, one for poaching and one for drinking.

Wine Poached Pears
Makes 4-6 servings

4 cups Water
1 Tbl Lemon Juice
4 - 6 ripe, but not squishy (Pears, Bosc, Bartlett, Anjou, or Comice)
1 bottle dry red wine (Chianti, Cabernet Sauvignon, Syrah, or a Merlot if you must)
1 cup sugar
Zest and juice of 1 Orange
4 half inch slices of peeled fresh ginger
Ginger tip: You can buy a big chunk of ginger and store it in the freezer then when you need some grated ginger or slices you just take it out and grate or saw off what you need.

In a large bowl, combine the water and lemon juice. Peel pears, leaving stems intact, and cut a thin slice from bottom of each to enable pear to stand upright for presentation purposes. Place the pears in the lemon water to keep from browning while prepping the poaching liquid.
In a large pan (large enough to hold the pears either laying on their sides or standing upright), add red wine and sugar; bring just to a boil. Add orange zest, orange juice, and ginger slices.
Remove pears from lemon water and arrange on their sides in poaching liquid; add enough additional water as necessary to just cover pears. Reduce heat to low and simmer, turning them occasionally, approximately 15 to 20 minutes or until pears are tender. To test the doneness stab the pears carefully with a thin bladed knife - it should meet little resistance. Don't poach for too long as the pears will quickly disintegrate to mush. This is best done the same day you plan to serve them.
When done, carefully transfer pears with a slotted spoon to their serving dishes. Strain the ginger slices from the poaching liquid. Increase heat to medium-high and boil liquid until it is reduced to about 3/4 cup and slightly syrupy (watch carefully so it does not burn). Remove from heat and pour sauce over pears or serve in a small dish on the side for dipping. Cover and refrigerate pears until ready to serve.
Bon Appetite!

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