Many years ago, when my family was in Italy, we roamed Florence with the restaurant suggestions of our travel agent, who prepared a very helpful booklet of museums, churches and restaurants for us to visit. Most nights, we stuck to their suggestions. But one night, for some reason, we just wandered, and picked a place that looked (and smelled) delicious. Not surprisingly, it was the meal that we all still remember, years later, from our trip to Italy. But the best part of the meal, and the dish that enticed us into the restaurant, was its beautifully displayed poached oranges. Since then, every time poached fruit (nearly always pears) appear on a menu, I order them. But the time had come for me to make my own.
And, of course, when I finally tried my hand at them, they came out elegant and beautiful, with minimal fuss. They take a little time to make, but are really simple and doesn't need to be tended to constantly, so you could easily set them over the stove, make another dish, and come back to them in your spare moments. Also, I made the pears and sauce a day ahead, and then reheated just before serving. They turned out great -- better, in fact, I think, because the pears were just full of flavor from resting in the syrup overnight.
2 1/2 cups red wine
2 cups water
1 1/4 cup sugar
8 bosc pears, peeled with stems intact
1. In a large saucepan or dutch oven, combine the wine, water, sugar, and pears.
2. Bring the liquids to a light boil and boil for 15 minutes. Remove pears, and set aside. Boil remaining liquids for an additional 10 minutes, or until liquid is reduced by half.
3. Pour reduced sauce over pears and refrigerate for at least 3 hours or overnight.
4. Just before serving, place pears and sauce into a large saucepan and heat thoroughly, about 10 minutes.
5. Place pears into bowls to serve, and spoon sauce over them. Serve.