photograph by Matt Hulsman

Yield: 6 servings.

3 cups dry red wine, such as Merlot
¼ cup white granulated sugar
½ cup fresh-squeezed orange juice
1 (1 x 3-inch) strip orange peel
1 cinnamon stick
1 star anise
1 bay leaf
3 whole cloves
6 firm, ripe pears

In a 4-quart Dutch oven, combine wine, sugar, orange juice, orange peel, cinnamon stick, anise, bay leaf, and cloves. Bring to a boil, reduce heat, and simmer for 5 minutes. While the liquid is simmering, peel pears, leaving stem intact. Slice ½ inch off the bottom of the pears so they’ll stand upright. Gently place pears in wine mixture, cover, and simmer for 15 minutes, turning every 5 minutes to ensure even color. Pears should be cooked but still firm. Remove Dutch oven from heat, uncover, and cool with pears upright in pan. Once cool, cover and chill in refrigerator at least 6 hours or overnight.

Gently remove pears from liquid and place on serving platter. Allow the pears to come to room temperature. Meanwhile, pour liquid into a shallow saucepan over medium-high heat and reduce, stirring occasionally, for 15 minutes or until liquid is thick enough to coat the back of a spoon. Remove from heat and let liquid cool to room temperature. Drizzle each pear with 2 tablespoons of syrup and serve.

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Lynn Wells is a personal chef with more than 20 years of experience in the food and hospitality industry and a degree in Nutrition Management from UNCG.