Not so much a recipe as a general idea. I will post a recipe at a later date, when I have finished experimenting.
I had long believed that pears needed to be ripening before you can do anything with them. In fact I just checked a few websites that indicated that to cook pears, they should be ripe.
But I came across a recipe by Delia Smith which indicated that unripened pears could be poached.
Her recipe used Marsala wine and gentle poaching on the stove. I didn’t have any wine, but I had plenty of pears, and I decided to opt for using a slow cooker; in this case my little Lakeland Mini Multicooker, which is great for cooking just 1 or 2 portions of anything.
I started by peeling two pairs. Due to the size and shape of the Multicooker, I decided not to go for the classic “Poached Pear with Stem” look, and I topped and tailed the pears, and then cut them in half. (Note to self: for future cooks, quarter, and cut out the fibrous core – it wasn’t nasty, but the dish will benefit.)
My first thought was vanilla, and although I have vanilla extract in the cupboard – I may even have a tired pod in a jar somewhere – I also have a bottle of vanilla syrup next to my coffee machine, so I started with a good spash of that. Then I needed something for a poaching liquid. I have some nice Belvoir Ginger Cordial, and this seemed a good combination. So I made up half a pint of diluted drink, and added that to the pears and syrup. I then stirred in two tablespoons of sugar and a broken cinnamon stick.
The Multicooker runs hot as a slow cooker, the equivalent of a normal slow cooker’s “High”, so I set it for the default 4 hours.
After just over an hour, the smell was incredible. I opened the Multicooker to look at the pears, and a knife went into one of them without effort. I cut off a small piece to taste. It was so nice I dished up a pear-half there and then, but left the others cooking.
It was a little firmer than a poached pear should be, but still very pleasant in terms of texture, and the taste was wonderful. I got the taste of the vanilla, the cinnamon and the ginger, but also very much the pear. By the time I had finished the half, the rest had been in for a total of an hour and a half, so I dished them up. They were even better.
However, as I clearly had a good syrup going in the Multicooker, I prepared another two pears and put them in, this time opting for the minimum cooking time the Multicooker allows – 2 hours.
The 2 hour cooked pears were brilliant, so that is now my “poached pear” setting.
I am so pleased with this experiment. I am not sure if any pears will survive to be ripened. I may just cook the lot and freeze them.