January 7, 2012


When we were in France for the week between Christmas and New Year, we did quite a bit of home cooking.  We invited our friends Ken and Walt for lunch and Nick decided to do one of his favourite puddings,  pears poached in red wine.

pears2 michael barry The recipe comes from this book by Michael Barry, and is a classic French dessert.  I gave the book to Nick for Christmas in 1996 and it contains easy versions of recipes for many familiar French dishes, some of which are otherwise immensely complicated and require much forward planning, beginning the preparation days before the food is served. 

Sadly, Michael Barry died last year at the age of 69.  I remember him well from the BBC Food and Drink programme which we watched regularly.

pears1It is very easy to make.  You simply peel and core the pears leaving the stalks on, immerse them in red wine and cook for hours and hours in a low oven.  There is a quick way to do it but they taste better if you do it the long way.  It is also best to use a reasonably good red wine; we find a Merlot works well.

We served our with a slice of rich, flourless chocolate torte, the syrup the pears were poached in and a little cream.  Leftovers are also good served with cheese, we discovered.



6 – 8 pears

175-225g sugar

1tsp allspice

2tsp ground ginger

450ml red wine 


Peel the pears leaving the stalks on. Remove the cores.

Put in an ovenproof dish, add the other ingredients, top up with water to cover the pears.

Cover and bake at 120°C / 110°fan for 5-7 hours, turning a couple of times.

Or, if you are lucky enough to have an Aga, leave them in the simmering oven overnight.   Alternatively, cook very gently on the hob for 1½ hours if you want to use the quick method.

Rapidly boil the remaining liquid until it has reduced to serve as a syrup. Serve cool.

Serves 6 – 8 people ~ one pear each.

(Thanks to Ken for his picture of the pears on the table – ours was taken just as they came out of the oven and was a bit steamy !!)


  1. oh my goodness they looks like perfect jewels in that glass bowl... heavenly!

  2. Lovely looking pears - great colour. I like the idea of eating the leftovers with cheese. I knew MB (albeit vaguely) in the early 80s and even ate some of his food. Sadly I don't remember it all that well. I still use some of his recipes,though. Always eminently doable.