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Honey Hibiscus Poached Pears

June 26, 2011

Hibiscus flowers are somewhat large, very vibrant and tough to miss. They stand out among the crowd.  Aside from ornamental beauty, parts of the plant (sepals, right behind the petals) can be cut, dried and used to make medicinal beverages or add flavor to cultural dishes.  It’s well-loved all over the world, from the Caribbean to Africa, Europe to Southeast Asia.

In our home, we recently used its cranberry-like flavor with honey to create a sophisticated syrup for poached pears.  Dried hibiscus can be found in health food stores or tea shops.  Feel free to substitute a hibiscus tea bag for the loose-leaf, just be sure there are no additive teas that might alter the flavor.

Dried Hibiscus Petals

Pear Halves in Hibiscus Honey Liquid

Honey Hibiscus Poached Pears
Makes 4 pears

4 firm Bartlett or Bosc pears
6 Tablespoons raw honey
3 cups white wine, such as Riesling or Chablis
4 cups water
4 teaspoon dried hibiscus petals

1: Carefully peel and halve pears, keeping stems intact.  Use a mellon baller or small spoon to remove seeds.
2: In a medium saucepan or large sauté pan dissolve honey with wine and water. Toss in 2 teaspoon hibiscus flowers.
3: Place pears in the liquid, so that all of the halves appear to be floating.  Liquid does not need to submerge pears, but they should be nearly covered.  Partially cover pan with a clear lid or entirely with a cartouche, cut to size. (Directions below)
4: Heat on medium, until liquid begins to simmer.  Adjust heat if needed to keep pears on a gentle simmer for 20-30 minutes, until tender.
5: Remove pears.  Either refrigerate or set aside at room temperature until sauce is reduced.
6: Add remaining hibiscus petals. Increase heat and bring sauce to boil. Reduce liquid to a nectar-like consistency. Remove from heat, then take out hibiscus petals. 
Spoon out reduction onto a shallow bowl. Place two halves of a pear over syrup.  Drizzle additional syrup over pears if desired.

A cartouche (kar-toosh) is a cover made of parchment paper.  For this cooking method, they allow you to easily monitor the  activity, so to prevent boiling.  A clear lid would work just as well, but here is how to make a cartouche if you don’t have one.

1: Begin with a square sheet of parchment paper. Fold in half to create a triangle.
2: Fold in half again for a 90° triangle.
3-5: Following the center of the triangle, fold three times.
6: Measure the radius of the pan to the parchment paper.  Cut according to size and cut the point of the triangle so that additional steam can easily escape while poaching.

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