4 cups filtered water
2 cups granulated sugar
1 Seville orange, zest and juice only
1 tsp black peppercorns
1 tsp whole cloves
1 cinnamon stick
1/4 tsp crushed nutmeg
3-4 small winter pears
With a very sharp vegetable peeler, strip long ribbons of very shallow orange zest.
In a medium-large, deep pot, dissolve sugar in water. Add orange zest and juice, along with peppercorns, cloves, cinnamon and nutmeg. Peel pears, leaving stems in tact, and place in poaching liquid. Bring to a gentle simmer, then reduce heat to low. Continue simmering slowly for 1 hour. Remove from heat and strain liquid back over pears, allowing pears and liquid to cool together, completely. Refrigerate in strained liquid once they've cooled to room temperature.
Serve pears with black pepper (or vanilla) ice cream, or a side of pear sorbet.
Cooks Notes: Seville oranges are sour but very fragrant, and most often used for marmalade. If these can't be found at your favourite produce market, use a naval orange.