Pears tend to be difficult to find perfectly ripe and ready to eat, but in a turn of good fortune they are just as tasty cooked as they are fresh. There is something really moreish and luxurious about poached pears and with only the tiniest bit of effort they bring a surprisingly posh end to any celebration around the dinner table.

Preparing these colourful jewels relies on simple stove-top poaching in a silky fragrant liquid, which is a good way to coach greatness out of those crunchy hand-grenades-of-winter-pears sold ‘for ripening at home’.  The longer the pears sit in the flavourful syrup after poaching, the better they’ll taste –  great news for those do-ahead kind of folks out there. A poached pear, crimson with wine and fragrant with spice can follow pretty much anything, but it is especially complimentary after a yummy spicy stew. Any left overs make great additions to tarts, cheese boards or crumbles. Or you could simply enjoy them diced and mixed with your morning yogurt, topped with nut-filled crunchy granola. Perfection personified!


Pears in red wine and honey

Recipe by Marlene van der Westhuizen

Serves 6

  • 6 firm pears
  • 750ml (1 bottle) fruity red wine
  • 100ml honey
  • 100g (½ cup) brown sugar
  • 15ml (1 tbsp) vanilla paste
  • crème fraîche, to serve

Peel the pears, leaving the stalks intact. Combine the wine, honey, brown sugar and vanilla in a large pot. Bring to the boil and simmer until the sugar has dissolved.

Add the pears, placing them upright. Poach slowly until tender, for about 15 minutes. Remove from the heat. Reduce the wine sauce until it has a syrupy consistency. 3 Serve each pear with a spoonful of syrup drizzled over and a scoop of crème fraîche.

Note: if you are so inclined add further flavour with the spice of your choice such as cinnamon, star anise or even a bay leaf or two.

More about Marlene van der Westhuizen:

As a truly passionate gourmand with an unquenchable yen for travelling, Marlene van der Westhuizen has spent the larger part of three decades cooking her way around the world, with a particular emphasis on France and its exceptional cuisine. What started as food demonstrations and gatherings around her kitchen table in Cape Town, soon turned into guided tours to an ancient village in the middle of the Auvergne, where she introduces spellbound audiences to the essence of French cooking with her week long cooking classes. This recipe was taken from her book Delectable published by Rollerbird Press a division of Troupant Publishers where she chronicles her cooking from rural France to urban Cape.


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Production: Eatsplorer | Photography: Deryck van Steenderen