Prep time: 20 minutes
Cook time: 35 minutes
Firm pears that are just slightly underripe are best for poaching because they hold their shape well. Bosc pears, which keep their shape even when quite ripe, are best, though Anjou and Bartlett work well, too.
This recipe uses whole cinnamon and black peppercorns for a subtle yet exotic flavor. The pears can be prepared up to four days ahead and stored, covered, in the refrigerator.
1 1/4 cups sugar
2 tablespoons lemon juice
2 bay leaves
1 cinnamon stick
1 teaspoon black peppercorns
2 whole cloves
4 cups water
6 ripe but firm pears, peeled, halved and cored
Using a vegetable peeler, remove four 3-inch strips of zest from the orange. Cut the orange in half and squeeze the juice into a small bowl.
In a large saucepan, combine the zest and orange juice with the sugar, lemon juice, bay leaves, cinnamon stick, peppercorns, cloves and water. Bring to a simmer, stirring constantly to dissolve the sugar.
Add the pears and simmer over low heat until just tender when pierced with a knife, 5 to 10 minutes, depending on how ripe the pears are.
Use a slotted spoon to transfer the pears to a serving bowl. Set aside.
Bring the remaining liquid and spices in the saucepan to a boil over medium-high heat and boil until reduced to 2 cups, about 20 minutes. Pour the syrup through a strainer over the pears. Discard spices. Let pears and syrup cool to room temperature, serve.
Per serving: 225 cal.; 1 g pro.; 67 g carb.; 1 g fat (0 sat., 0 monounsat., 0 polyunsat.); 0 mg chol.; 0 mg sod.; 4 g fiber; 0 g sugar; 4 percent calories from fat.