quince slowly and gently, bathed in just a little bit
of sugar syrup and the flesh that was once wooden and
tannic turns a lovely rose hue, with a silky texture
and a subtly sweet, spicy flavor that recalls apples
and pears baked with cinnamon and clove.
first glance ó and even, quite frankly, after extended
contemplation ó there is little to hint that the quince is
one of the most delicious of fallís fruits. It is
rough-hewn and blocky in appearance, like someoneís first
woodworking project gone horribly wrong. And should you make
the mistake of taking a bite of it raw, thatís kind of how
it tastes too.
you know about judging things on first impressions. Take
that same quince, give it a little careful tending and youíll
find a fruit that is utterly transformed.
quince ó slowly and gently, bathed in just a little bit of
sugar syrup ó and the flesh that was once wooden and
tannic turns a lovely rose hue, with a silky texture and a
subtly sweet, spicy flavor that recalls apples and pears
baked with cinnamon and clove.
traditional way to cook a quince is by poaching it in spiced
simple syrup. Thatís easy enough, but Iíve come to favor
a slightly different technique from my old friend Deborah
Madisonís cookbook "Seasonal Fruit Desserts."
She bakes them in a syrup made partly with white wine and
spiced with cinnamon, clove and cardamom along with
tangerine or orange zest.
seems to me when baked this way, quince takes less time to
cook through, and it achieves that perfect rosy color more
reliably. Plus, thereís that nice little bit of
caramelization that the edges pick up. Mmmm, caramelized
the fall and early winter (in fact, until I run out and canít
get any more quince to cook), I always have some of this in
together yogurt and honey, and spoon it over some of this
quince for a little bite of something sweet after dinner. On
the other hand, because itís not overpoweringly sweet,
combined with plain yogurt it makes a perfect breakfast.
as an accompaniment for a cheese plate ó maybe a little
Red Hawk, a little Parmigiano and, of course, some
Gorgonzola (Gorgonzola, Grommit!).
the cooked quince to fruit compote made from dried fruits
poached in spiced syrup.
the cooked quince in crepes, with a little sweetened fromage
it in a strudel, mixed with dried sour cherries and walnuts.
as a base for a clafoutis. Arrange cooked quince in the
bottom of a baking dish, pour clafoutis batter over top
(made by blending ľ cup sugar, 3 eggs and ĺ cup each
whipping cream and milk until smooth, then pulsing in Ĺ cup
of flour) and bake at 400 degrees until puffed and brown,
about 45 minutes.
any of a multitude of jams and jellies.
the flavor of cooked quince is more spicy than sweet, it can
also be used in savory dishes, in much the same way you
might serve applesauce with pork.
poached quince with roast pork. Another terrific idea is
adding some cut-up cooked quince to applesauce while itís
cooking ó itíll take on that rosy glow and have an added
depth of flavor.
quince to braised duck legs. Itís one of my favorite
savory uses for quince. The rich, meaty flavor of the duck
is set off nicely by the spicy fruit. Braise the duck legs
with red wine, balsamic vinegar and beef stock, and add
cut-up quince for the last hour or so. This works equally
well with other rich-flavored meats, such as lamb shanks or
cubed pork shoulder.
proof that even the most unlikely foods can shine if you
just give them a little attention.
minutes, plus about 2 hours baking. Serves 8 to 12
water, or 2 cups Riesling plus 1 cup water
of 1 tangerine or 3 wide strips orange zest
teaspoon cardamom seeds
4 to 6
large quince (about 1 pound)
late-harvest Riesling, Muscat or other dessert wine
Heat the oven to 375 degrees. Combine the water (or diluted
wine), sugar, zest, cinnamon and spices in a saucepan and
bring to a boil. Stir to dissolve the sugar, then simmer
over low heat while you prepare the quince.
Peel the quince, cut them into wedges about
three-fourths-inch wide at the center and remove the cores;
you should have about 4 cups. Put them in a shallow dish,
like a gratin dish. Pour two-thirds of the syrup over the
fruit, including the spices. Bake, uncovered, for about 2
hours, turning the fruit every 30 minutes for the first 1Ĺ
hours and then more frequently during the last 30 minutes,
as the syrup will be well-reduced by then. You want it to
caramelize and thicken but not burn. When done, the quince
should be nearly translucent and slightly rosy.
Remove from the oven and immediately add the dessert wine.
At this point, you can serve either warm or at room
temperature, or refrigerate, covered with the syrup.
OF 12 SERVINGS
Adapted from Deborah Madisonís "Seasonal Fruit