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Julia Child’s Pears Poached in Red Wine

September 1st, 2009

Pears Poached in Red Wine

Thanks to the recent release of Julie and Julia I was introduced to Julia Child.  Surprisingly, I had never really seen any of her stuff.  Now, I am a complete “foodie.”  Even more so after cooking and eating this most recent delectable dessert.  I found the sweet treat in Julia’s Mastering the Art of French Cooking: Volume Two. After seeing the movie I just had to order both of her “Mastering the Art of French Cooking” Books!

Peeling pears

We invited some friends over for dinner and served up this delicious dessert!  We were so pleased with the dessert.  I was a little scared to make the recipe since it doesn’t have any pictures.  In the end, her excellent descriptions helped to make the job easy!  I didn’t even use Google!

Since it is pear season, I couldn’t think of a better way to celebrate the arrival of my new book, but with a bottle of red wine and poached pears!  Flip to page 440 in volume two to follow along!  Here’s what I did (5 steps).

Simmering the wine

Step 1 – Poaching the Pears (can be made several days ahead):


  • 1 cup of sugar
  • 1 1/2 cups côtes-du-rhône (After making this I imagine you can use a good Oregon Pinot Noir — one of my favorites lately.  Try the $10 Eola Hills Oregon Pinot Noir or find a local young red wine from your area)
  • 1 1/2 cups water
  • 4 whole cloves
  • zest of 1/2 orange
  • 1 tsp vanilla
  • 4 firm, ripe, pears
  • A pan 2 1/2 inches deep or more, large enough to cover the pears


  1. Stir the sugar, wine and water together in the pan
  2. Bring to a simmer over medium heat
  3. Add the cloves, zests and vanilla
  4. Simmer for another 20 minutes, then remove from heat
  5. Peel the pears and halve, lengthwise
  6. Remove the stem lines and cores
  7. Drop each half into the wine syrup, it should just barely cover the pears, add more liquid and sugar if necessary
  8. Bring to almost a simmer and poach, uncovered for 10 to 15 minutes until the pears are soft.  Do not let the syrup come to a simmer
  9. Remove from heat and let the pears cool for at least 20 minutes and up to 1 day in the syrup
  10. Julia says you can leave the pears in the syrup for several days to absorb the syrup.

You can stop here and enjoy the pears all by themselves or get creative and serve them with some Gorgonzola or blue cheese or you can continue and serve with some Sabayon sauce and meringue.

Poaching the Pears

Step 2 – The Sabayon Sauce (can be made several hours before serving):


  • 2 cups of the pear-poaching syrup
  • 3 egg yolks
  • 2 teaspoons cornstarch
  • 2 tablespoons more of the poaching syrup
  • 2 tablespoons butter
  • 4 tablespoons orange liqueur

Making the sauce sabayon


  1. Rapidly boil down the cooking syrup in a small saucepan until reduced to 1 cup (about 5 minutes)
  2. In a second sauce pan beat the egg yolks and cornstarch to blend smoothly
  3. Beat in the two tablespoons of cool cooking syrup.
  4. In a thin stream, stir in the reduced syrup
  5. Set over medium heat and stir slowly with a wooden spoon until the syrup coats the spoon
  6. Do not let the syrup come to a simmer
  7. Remove from heat
  8. Mix in the butter and orange liqueur


Step 3 – The Canapés (made up to an hour in advance):


  • 2 loaves of bread (Julia recommends white bread, I used whole wheat)
  • 2 tablespoons of butter


  1. Cut the crusts off the bread and cut each slice into quarters
  2. Heat the butter over a medium-high heat in a small pan
  3. Sauté the bread squares until golden brown in the butter
  4. Set in a greased baking pan

Making Meringue

Step  4 – The Meringue:


  • 3 egg whites
  • big pinch of salt
  • big pinch of cream of tartar
  • 1/2 cup sugar (though I accidentally put 1 cup in and it turned out okay)
  • 1/4 teaspoon vanilla


  1. Beat egg whites until foamy
  2. Beat in salt and cream of tartar until soft peaks are formed
  3. Beat in the sugar by the heaping teaspoon leaving 30 seconds between additions
  4. Beat in the vanilla
  5. Continue beating for several minutes until the egg whites are stiff and shiny.

Step 5 – Baking and Serving:


  1. Preheat the oven to 425 degrees Fahrenheit
  2. Sprinkle some “sugar in the raw” over the Canapé.
  3. Place a pear half, hollow side up on top
  4. Fill hollow with the sauce Sabayon
  5. Cover the pear with the meringue
  6. If desired, spread sliced almonds over each pear
  7. Sprinkle powdered sugar over each pear
  8. Place in the oven for about 5 minutes, or until the meringue is golden brown
  9. Serve with some luke-warm Sabayon sauce, passed separately

I hope you enjoy it!

6 Responses to ' Julia Child’s Pears Poached in Red Wine '

  • Bet says: [October 4th, 2009 6:15 am]

    Hi Keith, I just made this recipe. It came out very sweet, was yours very sweet? Maybe because I used a sweet white wine….And I had to add extra water/sugar because my pan wasn’t the right size. But it was still good!!!

  • Keith Prickett says: [October 4th, 2009 10:52 am]

    Hi Bet, mine came out very sweet too. I would definitely recommend to use a dry red wine and I could cut back on the sugar quite a bit next time I make this. I think you could experiment by just poaching pears and skipping the rest just to taste test varying amounts of sugar. I might start by cutting the sugar in half.

  • Melanie G. says: [October 17th, 2009 4:00 pm]

    Thanks so much for posting this, I stumbled across your blog when I Googled “cooking with sweet red wine”. For drinking wines, I prefer a dry red, so when I received a bottle of sweet Merlot as a gift, I turned to the internet to find a use for it. My neighbor had just shared a large bag of ripe-but-firm pears with us from his tree, so it was a no-brainer for me to try this recipe. I made just the poached pears, and they were delicious! The sweetness was just right for my taste, thank you.

  • Rebecca says: [January 17th, 2012 3:38 pm]

    I came across this recipe from googling to use up some pears. It was fantastic! I love Julia Childs & found your recipe a lot easier to follow! Thank you so much!!

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