This may seem like a weird post for the Monday after the Fourth Of July weekend but I promise that it’s not entirely random! It was actually inspired by how we spent our Fourth Of July and the people that we spent the day with. We went with friends to a VA winery and as we were enjoying a glass of wine in the beautiful weather the conversation naturally (somehow) wound around to…port. Actually, now that I’m writing this, the story does seem entirely random. BUT, the conclusion to the conversation is that port is best enjoyed either alone as an after dinner sipping beverage or with something soaked in port…poached pears were the suggestion of our friend, Matt.
The conversation had relevance for us because my friend brought us a bottle of port after her trip to Portugal last year and we’ve been pondering for awhile how best to use it and what to pair it with. We don’t tend to be port drinkers (it’s very sweet and very strong! 20%!) so opening the bottle had to have a special purpose…and these pears are it! We poached the pears in a boozy bath of tawny port, fresh ginger, and other spices and then reduced the poaching liquid to a rich syrup. Then we made ginger ice cream to go alongside the pears that cooled down the warm flavors of the pear while offering its own little kick.
To be honest, these are the first poached pears I’ve ever had…and they taste exactly like what I imagine a poached pear should taste like…intense pear flavors heightened by the taste of the wine and spices. The texture of the pear is soft enough to cut with a fork but still firm enough to be reminiscent of the fresh fruit. If you have a bottle of port that you’ve been wondering what to do with I hope you try this recipe!
Katryn’s Wine Pairing: Warre’s Otima 10 Port
Rating: 8.5 out of 10.0
Since I never drink port it doesn’t feel entirely fair for me to be giving this one a rating. However, I can say that it contributed to an excellent poaching liquid for the pears and it paired perfectly with the finished product…it was harmonious with the pears and the syrup and a nice contrast to the cool ice cream. The port itself reminded me of dried fruit…mostly apricots and raisins. I did a little research on this port and apparently this is a lighter style of port?! If that’s true what is a traditional port like??
This quadruple style ale hit the nail on the head for this posting. It pours a dark auburn colors with aromas of brown sugar, dates, and figs and has a bubbly apple tart taste mixed with rich malt flavors that balance well. The beer goes down smooth quickly followed by a fantastic warm sensation in your gut courtesy of the %10.5 alcohol content. The rich aromas and malt flavors blend masterfully with the ginger ice cream and sauce for the poached pear. Taking a drink from your glass have a taste of the ice cream and pear prolongs and intensifies the flavors with the nice addition of some carbonation and alcohol esters. This beer is fantastic by itself or with a savory dessert like the one we made.
Port Poached Pears:
Adapted from this recipe
a 1 ½-inch piece fresh ginger
2 firm-ripe Bartlett, Anjou, or Comice pears with stems intact
3 to 4 cups water
½ cup sugar
¼ cup Tawny Port
2 tablespoons fresh lemon juice
1. In a saucepan just large enough to hold pears lying on their sides bring 3 cups water to boil with ginger, sugar, Port, and lemon juice, stirring until sugar is dissolved.
2. Peel pears, leaving stems intact, and cut a thin slice from bottom of each if necessary to enable pears to stand upright when served. Arrange pears on their sides in poaching liquid, adding enough of remaining water as necessary to just cover. Simmer pears, turning them occasionally, until tender, 20 to 40 minutes depending on ripeness.
3. Carefully transfer pears with a slotted spoon to a bowl and boil poaching liquid until reduced to about 3/4 cup and slightly syrupy. Pour sauce over pears. Pears may be made 1 day ahead and cooled in sauce before being chilled, covered. Serve pears warm or chilled.
Ginger Ice Cream
Makes about 1 quart
From the Williams Sonoma Ice Cream Cookbook
1 ½ cups whole milk
1 ½ cups heavy cream
1 piece (2 inches) fresh ginger, peeled, cut into slices ¼ inch thick, and coarsely chopped (about ⅓ cup)
6 large egg yolks
½ cup plus 2 tablespoons sugar
Pinch of salt
3 tablespoons minced crystallized ginger, plus extra chopped crystallized ginger for garnish
1. In a heavy 2-quart saucepan, combine the milk, 1 cup of the cream, and the fresh ginger. Cook over medium heat until bubbles form around the edges of the pan, about 5 minutes. Remove from the heat and let stand for 20 minutes to steep.
2. Meanwhile, combine the egg yolks, sugar, salt, and remaining ½ cup cream in a bowl. Whisk until the mixture is smooth and the sugar begins to dissolve.
3. Gradually whisk about ½ cup of the warm milk mixture into the egg mixture, whisking constantly, until smooth. Pour the egg mixture into the saucepan. Cook over medium heat, stirring constantly with a wooden spoon and keeping the custard at a low simmer, until it is thick enough to coat the back of the spoon, 4-6 minutes. Do not let the custard boil. Strain through a fine mesh sieve into a bowl.
4. Place the bowl into a larger bowl partially filled with ice cubes and water. Stir occasionally until cool. Cover with plastic wrap, pressing it directly on the surface of the custard to prevent a skin from forming. Refrigerate until chilled, at least 3 hours or up to 24 hours.
5. Pour the custard into an ice-cream maker and freeze according to manufacturer’s instructions. When nearly frozen and the consistency of thick whipped cream, add the 3 tablespoons of crystallized ginger. Continue churning until mixed and fully frozen. Transfer the ice cream into a freezer safe container. Cover and freeze until firm, at least 3 hours or up to 3 days, before serving. Garnish with crystallized ginger and serve with the port poached pears.