spicy mulled wine plum compote with star anise and cinnamon

spicy mulled wine compote
Back in her stand-up comedy days, the comedienne Jo Brand used to say (and I am editing here as although I have been known to be occasionally foul-mouthed, I don't particularly like reading it), that she didn't eat any fruit at all. She explained that since there was no chocolate in it, there was no point. This has to be a rare occasion when I have to disagree with Jo, as these mulled wine plums are bloody marvellous!

At the moment, I seem to be living off plums - I just don't seem to be able to get enough. I have always liked plums, but this autumn I seem to have gone a bit plum crazy!

A friend of mine told me recently that she hated the smell of cooking plums, as it reminded her of school dinners. This was a bit awkward since at that moment we were sitting in my kitchen which was awash with the smell of this sweetly aromatic plum compote. Needless to say she decided to stay and brave things out, conceding that perhaps the healthy slosh of red wine with cinnamon and star anise could only be an improvement. I also noticed that she brushed aside my offer of a small taste and managed to force down an entire bowlful - so clearly not that scarred by bad memories!

There are so many things you can do with a good compote; it is gorgeous as a filling for a crumble. Perfect served with ice cream, or Greek yogurt, or with a chocolate pudding or even a gooey brownie. I also like mine to with savoury dishes - as an accompaniment to roast pork or reduced to a sticky jam with deep-fried cheese such as camembert. (Which is worth thinking about for the party season!)

Skill level: Easy

400g plums, halved and pitted
250ml red wine (I used a spicy Shiraz)
60g golden caster sugar
juice and zest of 1 fresh lemon or lime
1 cinnamon stick
1 star anise
2 cloves


  • Combine red wine, sugar, lemon juice and zest in a saucepan. Bring to a simmer, ensuring all the sugar has dissolved. 
  • Add cinnamon stick, cloves, star anise and plums, stirring gently. Simmer for 10 to 15 minutes, until the plums are tender. 
  • Fish out the spices and set aside.

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