Lillet on the rocks with a generous orange twist is one of my favorite
summer cocktails. Here, those sunny flavors meld with the perfect fall
pear and I have to tell you... it's damned good!
Place all ingredients, except the pears, into a 4 quart saucepan. Heat liquid over medium high heat for a few minutes until sugar dissolves.
In the meantime, peel your pears and cut a bit off the bottom of each pear to make it flat and able to stand without falling. (Come serving time, you will appreciate a pear that can stand up.) Keep the stems intact.
Submerge the peeled pears in the poaching liquid and return to a simmer. Cut out a circle of parchment to cover the pears and the liquid. Place a plate or small pot lid over the parchment-covered pears to keep them submerged. If your pears are not totally covered by liquid, you may want to add a bit more water or just rotate the pears periodically to insure even cooking.
Simmer covered pears for 30 minutes. ( If your pears are a little under-ripe, you may want to add 10 or so minutes of cooking time. If the pears are very ripe, 20 minutes of poaching could be enough.) To test for doneness, a sharp knife should be able to pierce the pear without effort. Remove pears from the stove top. Let pears sit covered and submerged in poaching liquid for another 15-30 minute before serving.
Place each pear in a small pretty bowl or glass. Strain poaching liquid and keep all the goodies, setting them aside for garnish. Pour some of the strained liquid over each pear. Add a couple of the poached citrus slices, a twig of two of thyme, and some orange zest to each bowl.
makes 4 large servings (or if you want this to be a smaller dessert, and enough to feed eight, you can cut the pears in half before serving)
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If you want to serve the pears later, place them in their cooking liquid, in the fridge for up to a day. The poached pears are delicious served cool as well as warm.