Poached Pears with Saffron Broth

I call this “company food”—as in, what can I make for company that’s easy but impressive? Poaching a pear sounds fancy, but all you’re doing is simmering it in a fruity broth. The poaching softens up the pear, making it a breeze to chew and digest. The Saffron Broth turns the pears a beautiful sunset yellow color.

To seed and stem a pear beautifully, once it’s cut in half, use a melon baller to scoop out the center, making sure to remove all of the seeds. Then use a sharp paring knife to make a small angled slice on each side of the core, running out from the center of the pear to the stem. This will remove a clean and even triangle-shaped piece where the stem and the core had been.

Serves 4

4 cups pear nectar
1/4 teaspoon Grade B maple syrup
Zest of 1 lemon, in long pieces
4 inches peeled fresh ginger, cut into 1/4-inch pieces
4 teaspoons maple syrup
generous pinch of saffron (12 to 15 threads)
2 ripe but firm pears, preferably Bosc or Comice, peeled, cut in half, seeded, and stemmed

To make the broth, stir the pear nectar, agave nectar, lemon zest, ginger, maple syrup, and saffron together in a large saucepan or 3-quart sauté pan over medium-high heat. Bring to a boil, then place the pear halves in the saucepan, flat side down. Place a piece of parchment paper over the pears and cover with a small plate to weight the pears down as they simmer. Lower the heat and simmer until the pears are tender and a knife pierces them all the way through without resistance.

Remove the pears from the saucepan. Return the liquid to the heat, bring to a lively simmer, and cook until syrupy, about 10 minutes. Taste the liquid for a quick FASS check. It may need a pinch of salt and a squeeze of lemon juice to balance the flavors.

Serve the pears drizzled with the poaching liquid and topped with a dollop of nut cream if you like.

Cooks Notes: to seed and stem a pear beautifully, once it’s cut in half, use a melon baller to scoop out the center, making sure to remove all of the seeds. Then use a sharp paring knife to make a small angled slice on each side of the core, running out from the center of the pear to the stem. this will remove a clean and even triangle-shaped piece where the stem and the core had been.

Photo Credit: Leo Gong

Reprinted with permission from The Cancer-Fighting Kitchen: Nourishing, Big-Flavor Recipes for Cancer Treatment and Recovery. Copyright © 2009 by Rebecca Katz with Mat Edelson, Ten Speed Press, a division of the Crown Publishing Group, Berkeley, CA