AllSpice staffer Chad keeps this fruit sauce handy for holiday entertaining: “This is a great thing to have in the back of your fridge to serve with plain greek yogurt, ice cream, or a slice of pound cake. Just warm up to serve. The recipe can easily be doubled for gift making. I like to shake things up by substituting 1 cup of traditional balsamic, fig, or cinnamon pear vinegar for 1 cup of the wine. ”
4 just-ripe pears (check for a little give when pressed near the stem), peeled, quartered and cored
1 bottle dry red wine (cabernet, carmenere, shiraz are good. Something affordable, but not the stuff that comes in a jug)
3/4 Cup sugar
2-3 cinnamon sticks
3 Whole Cloves
2 Bay Leaves
1 whole Star Anise
Peel from 1 lemon
1 Tbsp Vanilla Paste
Combine all ingredients — except pears — in a heavy saucepan. Stir to combine. Cook mixture over high heat, stirring, until sugar dissolves. Reduce heat to medium/low, and add pears. Cook until pears can be easily pierced with a fork (about 10 min). Remove pan from heat and allow pears to cool in spiced liquid.
Using a slotted spoon, remove pears. Strain liquid to remove solid spices (star anise, cinnamon sticks, cloves) and return to sauce pan. Heat sauce on medium/high heat, and cook until liquid is reduced by half.
Transfer cooled pears in clean jars and cover with the reduced wine sauce, leaving 1/2 inch space from mouth of jar. Cap jar tightly and keep refrigerated until ready for use.
If you want to share this fruit-in-sauce as a gift, follow previous step of transferring fruit and sauce to clean jars, leaving 1/2 inch head space. Process jars in a boiling water bath for 10 minutes. Remove jars from water bath and allow to cool on a cooling (cookie/cake) rack until jars are completely cooled and sealed.