These pears are braised, not poached, an important distinction that I have found, when teaching the dish, many people overlook. First they are sautéed in butter, a step that establishes the base for their finely articulated flavor. Subsequently, bay leaves add their distinctive aroma and, of course, the final significant element is the red wine. You should make every effort to use Amarone because of its intensely concentrated fruitiness and faintly raisiny quality. Of all alternatives to Amarone, the most highly recommended would be a late-harvest Zinfandel.
When the pears are done, there must remain no wine in liquid form, but only a dense syrup that dyes the fruit deep purple and forms a caramel-like coating on it. To favor the reduction and evaporation of the wine, it is necessary to use a broad, low pan, rather than a tall, narrow one.
© 1986 Marcella Hazan estate. All rights reserved.