Autumn brings with it our favourite fruits – pears, apples and citrus fruits. The recipe below, like all of Fridge Raid, is a guide – use what you’ve got and see what you like best. It’s best for the pears to be pretty ripe, but still fairly firm to the touch.
1 lemongrass stalk, bashed (or dried lemongrass or more ginger)
zest of 1 lemon (or orange/lime)
200 g/1 cup caster/granulated sugar (or any type of sugar; golden caster sugar is first choice)
4 cardamom pods, bashed (or a couple of cloves, or a pinch of mixed spice)
1 star anise (or experiment with a scattering of fennel or caraway seeds)
30-g/1-oz. piece of fresh ginger, roughly sliced (or try a cinnamon stick or two)
1 litre/4 cups water
4 pears (Conference/Bosc are best but use what you’ve got)
TOTAL TIME 45 MINUTES COOKING, 30 MINUTES COOLING
Add all the ingredients, apart from the pears, to a large saucepan and bring to the boil. Stir, making sure all the sugar has dissolved.
Make a cartouche (a piece of parchment paper that sits directly on the surface of the liquid rather than using a normal pan lid) – cut a circle of paper the same size as the diameter of your pan, then scrunch it up and stretch it out again (scrunching it up makes it more pliable).
When the poaching liquor has almost come to the boil, core the pears by cutting around the base with a small, sharp knife and scooping out the core to a depth of roughly 2 cm/. inch, then peel.
Once boiling, add the pears to the pan (if they’re not covered, add more water until they are), then reduce the temperature to a very low simmer, place the cartouche on top and leave to cook for 25 minutes, or until tender.
When cooked, remove from the heat and let the whole pan cool for about 30 minutes. Gently scoop out the pears and place in a serving dish with the cartouche on top, then put the pan of poaching liquor over a super high heat and bring to a rolling boil. Once vigorously bubbling, leave it on the heat for about 20 minutes until the liquor has reduced by half and become a loose syrup. Remove from the heat and serve, pouring the syrup over the pears. You can also store the cooked pears in their syrup in the fridge for up to 3 days.