Ah, the poached pear … Just saying it aloud is an elegant adventure for the mouth. And as much as a whole, luscious pear, simmered in delicately flavored liquids, is for certain a thing of elegance and beauty, the process is easy and the results versatile.
We tend to think of poached pears as a dessert item, but once cooked, they also “pair up” in appetizers, salads, and even breakfast ingredients. Pears are in season now and are an excellent, healthful treat.
The key to success is to select perfectly ripe pears. If they’re underripe, they won’t absorb the poaching liquid and its flavors properly, no matter how long you cook them; they’ll never soften up quite right, and they won’t lose that “unripe” taste. Overripe, they get mushy and won’t hold their shape. (Save them for making pear butter.)
Look for Bosc, Anjou, or Bartlett pears that are heavy for their size and give a little when you push gently on the flesh near the stem. (Buy an extra and give it a bite if you’re not sure.) Once poached, they’ll yield a soft and silky texture that no other cooked fruit offers.