Pears Poached in Red Wine with Raspberry Sauce
Pears are one of the favorite fruits of autumn and winter, and when poached in red wine and dressed with a sweetly tart sauce of red raspberries, they make a festive and colorful conclusion to a meal.
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In a large saucepan, combine the wine, sugar, and vanilla bean. Bring to a boil over medium-high heat, stirring constantly until the sugar is dissolved. Boil for 3 to 4 minutes more, or until the liquid is slightly thickened. Reduce heat to low and add the pear halves. Poach them for 7 to 8 minutes, or until they are tender but still hold their shape. Remove from the heat. Discard the vanilla bean.
With a slotted spoon, transfer the pears to a bowl and pour the poaching liquid over them. Let cool to room temperature, about 20 minutes, turning them from time to time. (The longer the pears stand in the poaching liquid, the more they will absorb and the darker they will become. They can stand for several hours, or if refrigerated, up to 24 hours before serving. If you want to serve the pears warm after they have been refrigerated, pour the poaching liquid back into a saucepan and heat over medium heat. Reduce heat to low, add the pears, and simmer 2 to 3 minutes, or just long enough to warm the pears.)
3 cups fresh or frozen raspberries
1/2 cup granulated sugar
1/4 cup water
To make the sauce: If using fresh raspberries, reserve a few for garnish. In a medium saucepan, combine all the ingredients and, mashing the berries with the back of a wooden spoon, cook over high heat for about 5 minutes. Reduce heat to low and continue to cook, stirring often, another 5 minutes. Put a bowl beneath a food mill, then put the berries through the mill to remove the seeds, scraping the bottom of the mill to make sure you get all the pulp as well as the juice. Return the juice and pulp to a saucepan. Cook over medium heat just until the sauce thickens a bit and warms, 2 to 3 minutes.
Arrange 2 warm or chilled pear halves on each dessert plate and pout a tablespoon or so of the poaching liquid over them, then a spoonful of the raspberry sauce. Garnish with a few whole raspberries, if available.