Braised, Simmered & Stewed: A New Cookbook in the Works

Braised, Simmered & Stewed: Heritage Dishes from the Slow Cooker is the tentative title of a new cookbook I’m working on for Chronicle Books, San Francisco due for release in Autumn 2026.

This slow cooker cookbook will recreate classics from many parts of the world. Lots of stews and spuds from my home kitchen in Ireland and some exciting dishes from Spain, Turkey and the south of France.

If you’ve got a slow cooker, you might be amazed at some of the things it can do. I know I was. Try this terrific dessert to begin with.

Poire a la Beaujolais

The 19th century recipe for this classic French dessert comes from the wine-growing region near Lyon. The original was simply pears cooked in wine and spices and called “pear compote.” The modern version is a lovely dessert that’s great for entertaining and a natural for the slow cooker.

6 firm pears (Bosc or Comice work well)
1 (750ml) bottle Beaujolais or other red wine
2/3 cup sugar
Fresh vanilla bean, split
2 star anise
2 cloves
Cinnamon stick
6 black peppercorns
Zest of an orange
200 ml creme de cassis (black currant liqueur)
Vanilla ice cream to serve (optional)
Shortcake to serve (optional)

Preheat the slow cooker for 15 minutes or so. Wash the pears and allow to dry.
Combine the other ingredients (except the creme de cassis and ice cream or cake) in a saucepan with half a cup of water over high heat and bring to a boil stirring to dissolve the sugar. Reduce to a simmer and cook five minutes or until fragrant, then pour into the slow cooker.
Peel the pears, keeping the stem intact. You can core them out from the bottom with a sharp, skinny knife, leaving the pear in one piece. Or just leave the peeled pears whole with a little decorative collar of green skin. (Who cares about a few pear seeds?)
Arrange the pears in the slow cooker so that they are submerged in the wine, preferably with stems sticking up. If they fall over, don’t worry about it, just rotate them from time to time so the color is even.
Cook for 4 hours on LOW, or until the pears are tender. Remove the cooked pears from the slow cooker and place in a container. Pour half a cup of the warm cooking liquid and the creme de cassis over the pears in the container.
Strain the rest of the cooking liquid. (There should be 4 cups or so.) In a pan over high heat, reduce some or all of it by a quarter to form a syrup. Cool the syrup to lukewarm.
You may be tempted to serve the pears warm, with a scoop of vanilla ice cream in a dessert bowl drizzled with the warm red wine syrup. Who could blame you?
But that’s really a different recipe.
In this older recipe, the pears are refrigerated in the red wine syrup for 24 hours, then served cold over shortcake with some of the syrup. (Add a scoop of vanilla ice cream if you like.)
I know it seems like a long time to wait for dessert, but trust me, it’s worth it.

Autumn ’26 is also a long time to wait for a cookbook–hopefully it will be worth it as well!

 

 

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