Sunday, December 14, 2014

Red Wine Poached Pears with Ricotta and Balsamic Glaze for a Libational #SundaySupper

Red Wine Poached Pears with Ricotta and Balsamic Glaze for a Libational #SundaySupper

A couple of weeks ago on Thanksgiving I spent the majority of the day watching football however I could not help but think of the things that made me thankful in 2014. One item that is high on my list from a food standpoint is the #SundaySupper Movement. It has provided me with several memorable experiences, most all of them positive. This tradition continued with a new experience this week when I volunteered to co-host with Alice of A Mama, Baby & Shar-pei in the Kitchen. I was delighted to meet her in person a couple of months ago when she was in town for IFBC, but the only picture I have from that meeting is one where she is holding the camera and wasn't in the picture. I have hosted events in the past by myself so it was nice to divide the hosting duties, but beyond that it was a pleasure to work with her.

Speaking of hosting duties, I published my preview for this week's event with the intention of preparing a lemoncello tiramis├╣. It utilized a sabayon in what I thought was a creative way. Then I went looking for a small container of lemoncello and couldn't find one in time to prepare this dish. This issue was further complicated when I had to do a mad scramble to think of a replacement dish because the temperature gauge on my oven broke off this past week which eliminated any possibility of baking. To keep with the theme of Libational Recipes, I didn't want to prepare a savory dish with a wine sauce because I still wanted to challenge myself with a dessert. Then I remember a picture from Fabio Viviani's first cookbook that I thought looked elegant. It also provided an opportunity to update the process of making ricotta cheese from scratch.

The Challenge

This could almost be categorized in my Presenting: series because the challenge is to replicate the photo in Fabio's book.

The Source

Adapted from pages 24, 220 and 268 of Fabio's Italian Kitchen by Fabio Viviani with Melanie Rehak.


1/2 gallon whole milk
1/6 cup white wine vinegar
1 tablespoon lemon juice
1 pinch kosher salt
2 cups balsamic vinegar
1/2 cup molasses
3 cups red wine
1/2 cup honey
2 cinnamon sticks
4 pears, peeled


1. Prepare the ricotta. Bring the milk to a boil in a large saucepan. Once the milk reaches a temperature of 181° Fahrenheit, immediately remove the pan from heat and add the vinegar, lemon and salt. Stir as the milk curdles to fully incorporate the salt and lemon. Cover and let it cool for approximately 2 hours. Once cool, strain the mixture through a cheesecloth-lined strainer, pressing lightly on the curds to ensure the whey is completely drained.

2. While waiting for the ricotta to cool, prepare the balsamic. Combine the balsamic vinegar and the molasses in a small saucepan and bring to a boil over medium-high heat. Reduce the mixture to the consistency of a syrup. Set aside to cool.

3. Poach the pears. In a large pot, combine the wine, honey and cinnamon and bring to a boil. Add the pears and simmer them in the wine for about 15 minutes. Remove the pears and set aside to allow them to cool, then raise the poaching fluid heat to high. Reduce the fluid to the consistency of a syrup. To plate, place one pair off to one side on top of the reduced poaching fluid with a dollop of ricotta and drizzled with balsamic.


In my rush to complete the dish the evening I prepared it, I neglected to notice one word in the ingredient list: peeled. It would have changed the composition of the dish. Unfortunately, the pears did not soften sufficiently. Despite my troubles with it, the flavors of the dish complemented each other well.

Other Libational Recipes this week:

Savory and Sweet Libational Dishes
Libational Desserts
Sunday Supper MovementJoin the #SundaySupper conversation on twitter on Sunday! We tweet throughout the day and share recipes from all over the world. Our weekly chat starts at 7:00 pm ET. Follow the #SundaySupper hashtag and remember to include it in your tweets to join in the chat. To get more great Sunday Supper Recipes, visit our website or check out our Pinterest board.


  1. I am also very grateful for my #SundaySupper friends...and delighted I've gotten to spend time with you twice this year! Such an elegant dessert...and perfect for a lighter after dinner treat. Much needed in this season of indulgence. Thanks for hosting, DB!

  2. Funny how things get in the way of what we want to cook but it works out in the end with something so delicious anyway.

  3. I suppose the peeling of the pears would have lent to their softening while cooking but the fact that they still tasted great is all that matters. I happen to adore pears in desserts so I'd happily eat what you have love lovingily prepared. I think they're pretty! Oh, btw, thanks for hosting this weeks event. You did a great job!
    Renee - Kudos Kitchen

  4. I always appreciate that you post your mishaps as well as triumphs in the kitchen and this is definitely a triumph!

  5. Glad to read that I am not the only one who occasionally misses an important word in a recipe, DB. Regardless, your pears look beautiful and I am sure the ricotta is creamy and rich. Thanks so much for hosting this great theme!

  6. You had me with the pears! I love this dessert!

  7. I love poached pears over the holidays!! I grew up eating loads of pears as we had 7 trees on our property. I still love them and never have got tired of them.

    1. Sorry, I forgot to say thank you so much for hosting today!! :)

  8. DB there is no doubt the you will find a way to make things work out! T%hank you for hosting!

  9. What an elegant dessert! Great to meet you at F&WC this Summer, and thanks for hosting this week!

  10. The dessert looks gorgeously gourmet unpeeled, DB. Thank you for co-hosting today's Sunday Supper. Bravo for persevering despite the challenges. <3

  11. I hope we meet in-person in 2015! Are you planning to join any conferences next year? Your dessert sounds so festive and fun. I'd love to try these and of course...lemoncello tiramis├╣. Thanks for hosting, DB!

  12. Looks like you made the best of a tight situation! I love it when all the scant ingredients in my fridge can add up to something wonderful, like these poached pears and homemade ricotta!

  13. Sometimes when things don't go right in the kitchen, a wonderful result happens. Just like this. I completely agree that one of the things I'm grateful for this year is this Sunday Supper family, and the people I've met through it :-)

  14. OH!!! And thanks so much for co-hosting this week with Alice. Really appreciate all that you do for us :-)

  15. Thank you so much for co-hosting this week, y'all did a fantastic job! I have yet to embark on homemade ricotta, but it's on my short list of things I must conquer. I have made yogurt though, so ricotta can't be that much harder, right? Actually yogurt is incredibly easy, don't answer that, lol! Anyways, your dish looks fabulous, especially considering all your trials in getting to it.

  16. DB, I love pears, this sounds fantastic! I always love your creations!


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