Poached Pears with Cardamom and Saffron


½ Tbsp cardamom pods 
2 c dry white wine
¾ c sugar
1 ½ Tbsp fresh lemon juice
1/4 tsp saffron threads
Pinch kosher salt
1 lemon cut in half, squeezed into a medium bowl of water
4 firm pears, preferably with stems 
1 6-ounce container crème fraîche

• Peel pears with a sharp paring knife, being careful to leave stems intact. Core from the bottom using a small melon-baller, again leaving stems intact. Put in bowl of lemon water to prevent browning. 
• Gently crush cardamom with a rolling pin or the bottom of a skillet to slightly crack open pods without releasing seeds. Combine cardamom, wine, sugar, lemon juice, saffron, and salt in a medium saucepan over medium heat, stirring until sugar dissolves. Bring to a simmer. Add pears; add water if needed to completely submerge pears. Cover with lid slightly ajar and simmer, turning occasionally, until pears are tender but not mushy, about 30 minutes. 
• Using a slotted spoon, transfer pears to a plate. Increase heat and boil poaching liquid until reduced to 1 cup, 10–15 minutes. DO AHEAD: Can be made 24 hours ahead. Cover and refrigerate pears. Let syrup stand at room temperature. Rewarm syrup before continuing. 
• Spoon some of syrup over cold or room-temperature pears. Serve with a dollop of crème fraîche; pass remaining syrup.