Let's Cook with Meg and Ted

Pot-roasted quinces

I've wanted to make this recipe for years. Look at the photos you see alongside this recipe elsewhere! Those quinces look sticky and glossy and opulent and gorgeous. So after the success of the poached quince a couple of weeks ago, when I saw a tray of beautiful fresh quinces at the grocer I I immediately decided to pot roast them.

The recipe was developed by Maggie Beer, and appears in Stephanie Alexander's fantastic Cook's Companion. I figured that this would be the authoratitive source - they've written however many books together, they work together, blah blah blah. So I put aside my worry that I couldn't see how this recipe would produce anything substantially different to poached quinces, and went ahead. Well, as you can see from the little picture above, I got beautiful, tasty..... poached quinces! They're delicious, and beautiful, but not what I was expecting, or what was described in the heading to the recipe.

After finishing cooking these (and eating some very happily), I did a bit more reading and found in Nigella Lawson's Forever Summer another recipe for these quinces, which she says Maggie Beer described to her several years ago, which is quite different (and which I will try soon). The picture accompanying that recipe shows precisely the sort of quince I am after - darkest ruby red, glassy and glossy.

So, I'm not sure that I would recommend making the recipe below, at least not if you want what I wanted from it. If you're after a poaching method that allows you to use whole quinces, it'd be worthwhile - the results are certainly delicious.

6 quinces (preferably with stem and leaf attached)
1.5 litres of water
4 cups of sugar
juice of 3 lemons

Pack the quinces, the water and the sugar in a large, heavy-bottomed, non-reactive saucepan. Boil vigorously for 30 minutes until the syrup thickens (large bubbles will form). Lower the heat and simmer for up to 5 hours, using a simmer mat if necessary. Turn the quinces at least 4 times during cooking, to ensure that they become a deep ruby colour through to the core. Add the lemon juice in the final minutes of cooking, to help cut the sweetness.

Serve whole quinces with a little of the syrup and some cream, or serve a piece of quince alongside a slice of quince and nut cake.

31 January 2004

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