When my Canadian relatives arrive for American Thanksgiving next month, I want to spend lots of time visiting with them instead of working in the kitchen. My strategy this year involves slow cookers, putting all three of mine (3-, 4- and 7-quart) to work. In the largest cooker, I'll make black bean and sweet potato stew, a colorful vegan main dish. The 3-quart might be perfect for gravy, and the 4-quart for a dessert to serve alongside the got-to-have-it pumpkin pie. Kathy, my cooking assistant, and I are testing several dessert possibilities, and we think these poached pears in caramel sauce are a winner. They're simple and elegant on their own, which is how I like them, but a scoop of vanilla ice cream or whipped cream on top will melt the heart of even the most die-hard pie fan.
Slow cooker poached pears in caramel sauce
Adapted from Real Simple, this recipe makes 4-8 servings (1-2 pear halves per person).
1-1/2 cups brown sugar
1 Tbsp grated ginger root
2 Tbsp unsalted butter, cut into small pieces
4 firm, slightly underripe Bartlett or Bosc pears
1/8 tsp ground cinnamon, for garnish
In a 4-quart slow cooker, stir together the sugar, ginger and butter.
Peel the pears with a vegetable peeler. Cut each pear in half lengthwise, and use a melon baller to remove the core. With a sharp paring knife, remove the stem and trim the bottom.
Gently toss the pears with the sugar mixture in the slow cooker, and layer them cut side down.
Set the cooker to HIGH, cover, and cook for 2 hours, until the pears are tender when pierced with a knife. (Open the cooker once during the cook time and gently spoon the sauce over the top pears.) Turn the cooker off, and with a slotted spoon, remove the pears to a bowl.
Pour the caramel sauce into a small sauce pan, and bring to a boil. Reduce the heat to low, to keep the sauce at a simmer. Shaking the pan fairly constantly, reduce the caramel sauce by one-third of its original volume (don't let the caramel get too dark, or it will have a burnt taste), 2-3 minutes.
Place 1-2 pear halves per person on individual plates. Spoon a bit of sauce over the pears, and sprinkle with cinnamon. Serve warm.
Other recipes that use these pantry ingredients:
Sour cream pear cake with pecan streusel, from Pinch My Salt
Crockpot pear and ginger applesauce, from Cookin' Canuck
Low sugar and whole wheat apple-pear cake with cinnamon and pecans, from Kayn's Kitchen
Roasted Brussels sprouts and pears, from Food Blogga
Pear ginger compote, from Whipped
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