I found this recipe in the January issue of Bon Appétit. It had a mix of spices that appealed to me, and it was just the thing I needed between two of the Engineer’s chocolate cakes. I had always poached pears in red wine before, too, so the white wine seemed lighter and refreshing. I chose to halve the pears and core them, because I feel they’re easier to eat that way. I loved the result! I didn’t serve them with the recommended dollop of crème fraîche, obviously, though perhaps some plain yogurt would be nice. In hindsight, and looking at the original picture, I think that when you crack the cardamom pods open, you should not pry them open any further – I released the seeds and put those directly in the wine, but it’s somewhat unpleasant to bite into one. I think just putting the cracked pods in there would give you the same flavor, but they would be easier to avoid as you’re spooning your way through your pear.
½ Tbsp cardamom pods
2 cups dry white wine
¾ cup sugar
1 ½ Tbsp fresh lemon juice
¼ tsp saffron threads
pinch of kosher salt
4 firm pears, peeled, stems intact OR halved and cored
Gently crush cardamom with a rolling pin or the bottom of a skillet to slightly crack open pods without releasing seeds. Combine cardamom, wine, sugar, lemon juice, saffron, and salt in a medium saucepan over medium heat, stirring until sugar dissolves. Bring to a simmer. Add pears; add water if needed to completely submerge pears. Cover with lid slightly ajar and simmer, turning occasionally, until pears are tender but not mushy, about 30 minutes.
Using a slotted spoon, transfer pears to a plate. Increase heat and boil poaching liquid until reduced to 1 cup, 10–15 minutes. Put one or two pear halves (or one pear) per bowl and spoon some of the syrup over the fruit. I like it best served warm, but it can be served cold as well.