I have cooked these for clients three times in the last month, and each time they have been a knockout. Just about as Christmassy as it gets without entering the lairs of stodge and flatulence, and incredibly easy.
300ml Port (LBV or Tawny)
500g caster sugar
Juice of half a lemon
A stick of cinnamon
A few cardamom pods
Small handful of star anise
Put the port, water, sugar, lemon juice and spices into a saucepan. Stir to dissolve the sugar and put over a medium heat.
Peel the pears, trimming their bases so they sit flat on a plate. Plop into the saucepan, bring to a simmer and cover. Lower the heat and simmer for 1 hour.
Remove the pears and reduce the syrup by 1/3. Serve hot or cold with creme fraiche.
Otherwise you can put them in sterilised jars and give them out as (probably, by now, late) Christmas presents. They’ll keep for a couple of weeks in a refrigerator, and are delicious with blue cheese.
It’s not too late to participate in the Christmas Challenge - votes close at midnight tonight.