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Pears poached in red wine

Serves 6

1 1/2cups dry red wine
1cup sugar
Grated rind and juice of 1 orange
4whole cloves
6cardamom pods, crushed
11-inch piece of fresh ginger root, peeled and chopped
6whole peppercorns
6firm Bartlett or Bosc pears, peeled with stems intact
Salt, to taste

1. In a large, wide-rimmed pot, combine the wine and sugar. Bring to a boil.

2. Add the orange rind and juice, cloves, cardamom, ginger, and peppercorns. Lower the heat to a simmer. Cover the pan and cook for 5 minutes.

3. Cut a thin slice from the bottom of each pear. Add the pears to the liquid on their sides and adjust the heat to keep the liquid at a gentle simmer.

4. Cook, partially covered, for 20 to 30 minutes, depending on the pears' ripeness. Turn frequently to make sure the fruit absorbs the color from the wine evenly. The pears will pierce easily with a skewer when they are tender. To make in advance, cool the mixture and transfer it to a container. Refrigerate for up to 3 days.

5. To serve, bring the pear and liquid to room temperature. Reheat them gently in hot liquid for a few minutes. Transfer the pears to a serving dish and strain the cooking juices into a smaller pot.

6. Let the cooking juices simmer steadily for 5 minutes or until they cook down to a thick sauce. Add a pinch of salt. Spoon the mixture over the pears. Leigh Belanger

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