Here at the Rosemont Inn, we serve these as a first course for breakfast, but only during "pear season" which is fall and winter. Our wonderful guests love them and are always asking for the recipe, so here it is.
4 cups water
2 cups sugar
2 cinnamon sticks
1 vanilla bean split
zest and juice of 1 orange
Optional but excellent:
1 cup white wine
1 teaspoon cardamom seeds
Combine all in large pot and bring to a boil.
Meanwhile, peel and core 2-4 pears. If they are large, cut in half before coring. Smaller pears can be left whole. (We like to use a melon ball scoop to core the pears, but a small teaspoon will also work well.)
When liquid is simmering, add pears, cover and turn down to a very low temperature. The pears should poach gently and not boil.
Cook until a fork pierces through easily. This can be anywhere from 10 minutes to 40 minutes, depending on the size of the pears and also the variety. Bartlett Pears cook very quickly while Bosc or Red pears can take the full 4o minutes.
Substitute fresh apple cider for the white wine if you would prefer to avoid alcohol. Red wine or champagne are also excellent but give a slightly different flavor.
Kumquats can be used instead of oranges. Simply slice in half and add to the liquid. 10-12 kumquats equal 1 orange.
Syrup can be cooled and stored in the refrigerator for up to 2 weeks. Poach more pears as desired, up to 4 more times, before discarding.