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Banding Together for Waterfowl

The Ultimate Duck Dinner

The Sporting chef shares his menu for the perfect summer feast
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  • photo by John Hoffman, DU
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Poached Pear with Crème Anglaise and Balsamic Syrup

By the time you get to this dessert, you may have to loosen your belt a notch or two. Don't let the French scare you off, it's just a custard sauce with a drizzle of reduced balsamic vinegar. 

Preparation Time: 10 minutes  
Cooking Time: 30 minutes

  • 2 cups dry red wine
  • 1/4 cup lemon juice
  • 1 cinnamon stick
  • 3/4 cup sugar
  • 6 firm pears, peeled
  • 1 cup balsamic vinegar
  • Mint for garnish
Crème Anglaise
  • 1/2 cup whole milk
  • 1/2 cup whipping cream
  • 1 2-inch piece vanilla bean, split (or substitute 1/4 teaspoon real vanilla extract)
  • 3 large egg yolks
  • 3 tablespoons sugar
  1. Preheat the oven to 350 degrees. In a wide pot, at least 6 inches deep, bring the wine and next 3 ingredients to a boil. Reduce the heat to low and simmer for 5 minutes.
  2. Cut a thin slice off the bottom of each pear so that it will sit upright when placed on a surface. Place pears upright in the pot with the poaching liquid. The liquid should cover about 1/2 to 1 inch of the bottom of the pear. If necessary, add additional wine to the liquid. Cover the pot and simmer over low heat for 25 to 30 minutes.
  3. While pears are poaching (or a day ahead), prepare crème anglaise and balsamic syrup. Heat the milk and cream together in a medium saucepan over medium heat. Scrape the seeds from the vanilla bean or add the vanilla extract into the pot and heat until almost boiling, but do not boil. Whisk together the egg yolks and sugar in a medium bowl. While whisking, add the hot milk and cream to the combined yolk and sugar, a little at a time. Return the mixture to the saucepan and warm over very low heat while stirring until the sauce thickens. Do not let the sauce boil! 
  4. To prepare the balsamic syrup, heat the balsamic vinegar in a small, uncovered saucepan over medium heat. Reduce the liquid to 1/4 cup and allow it to cool. The syrup will thicken when cooled.
  5. To serve, place a pool of crème anglaise in the bottom of a shallow dish or bowl. Drizzle a thin stream of balsamic syrup around the edge of the sauce. Place the warm pear in the center of the bowl and garnish with mint. 

The Sporting Chef, Scott Leysath, is an author and television host who is among America's best-known experts on the preparation of fish and game. All dishes featured in this article were prepared and photographed at the Greentree Hunting Club in Desha County, Arkansas.

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