Pears take on an eye-catching crimson cast when poached with vibrant cranberries. Their pleasing tartness can be countered by a sliver of rich goat cheese or a dollop of creme fraiche or yogurt.
- 8 small pears, such as Seckel or Forelle, peeled, stems intact
- 2 tablespoons superfine sugar
- 1 cinnamon stick
- 1 large strip (4 to 5 inches) orange peel
- 1 large strip (4 to 5 inches) lemon peel
- 5 tablespoons honey
- 1 teaspoon fresh lemon juice
- 1 vanilla bean, split lengthwise
- 2 3/4 cups (10 ounces) fresh cranberries
- 1 tea bag, such as green tea or fruit tea
- 1/4 cup dried cranberries (optional)
- Greek yogurt, creme fraiche, or soft goat cheese, for serving
Place pears in a saucepan large enough to hold them snugly. Add enough water to barely cover them (about 4 cups). Add sugar, cinnamon, citrus peels, honey, and lemon juice. Using the tip of a paring knife, scrape vanilla seeds into pan, and toss in pod. Bring to a boil, stirring until sugar has dissolved. Reduce heat, and simmer gently until pears are tender, about 10 minutes.
Add fresh cranberries, and simmer until cranberries are soft but not mushy, about 3 minutes more.
Use a spoon to transfer pears to a dish. Spoon cranberries and syrup around pears. Add tea bag and dried cranberries if using. Let cool for 15 minutes. Cover, and refrigerate overnight.
Before serving, remove vanilla bean, cinnamon stick, citrus peels, and tea bag. Transfer pears to plates with some of the cranberries, syrup, and a dollop of yogurt, creme fraiche, or cheese.