Originally, I would peel the pears and then they were poached or stewed whole. A fancy style of service can be achieved by slicing from the bottom and leaving the top connected, the whole pear is then fanned onto the plate. Now I just peel and slice them in half.
For a casual dinner party I like to put the pears in a bowl, serve the reduced syrup in a jug and have bowls of icecream or cream for guests to serve themselves.
Pears in Red Wine and Vanilla Syrup
1 bottle red wine (750ml), white wine can also be used.
2 cups sugar
1-2 vanilla beans, split
2 star anise
1 cinnamon stick
Combine all ingredients in a saucepan and bring to the boil. Reduce heat and simmer for ten minutes.
4-6 pears, peeled and cut in half lengthwise.
Add pears to syrup and simmer until just tender, approximately 20 minutes. Make sure pears are fully submerged. I cut a circle of cooking paper and place over the pears and then a small plate.
Remove from heat and allow pears to cool in syrup, preferably in the fridge overnight.
Remove pears from syrup. Reduce syrup until thicker and more viscous, like honey. Serve pears and syrup at room temperature.
*save the syrup and keep in the fridge. Use it again, just add a little water.
Some prunes stewed in the diluted leftover syrup.