6 medium-size pears
1 bottle red wine
1 cinnamon stick
1 vanilla bean
1 cup sugar
Vanilla-bean ice cream (optional)
Peel the pears, leaving them whole with their stems in place. Pour the bottle of wine into a pot just big enough to hold the six pears. Add the cinnamon stick. Cut the vanilla bean lengthwise, scrape the insides into the wine and then add the bean. Add the sugar. Place the pears in the wine and simmer long enough for the pears to be cooked through yet still hold their shape, turning them from time to time to ensure they are evenly cooked and get the red color evenly. (A needle or the sharp edge of a knife should go in with no resistance—it should take about 20 minutes.) Allow pears to cool down in the liquid. Stand them upright and keep them in the liquid in the refrigerator for at least 3 hours, or up to 24 hours.
Hours before serving, take pears out of the refrigerator and place them in a serving dish, standing upright if possible. (You can trim the bottom to flatten them to facilitate the standing-up). Heat the liquid in the casserole to a boil and allow to reduce until it is thick enough to coat a spoon. When serving dessert, dish out a pear with a tablespoon of vanilla bean ice cream (optional), and spoon some sauce over both.