The sound of apples falling in the orchard, a blanket of darkened leaves at your feet and the ambrosial fragrance of quinces perfuming the air are signs autumn has arrived, and cold-hardy produce is ready to harvest. Quinces are a special autumn treat best prepared in season, from August to December. Quinces are pome fruits, like apples and pears, but have dense flesh that requires cooking before you can eat them. Roasting leaves the door open to both savory and sweet interpretations of this autumn treasure, so you can use the fruit as both a side dish and dessert.
Things You'll Need
- Oil or butter
- Herbs and spices, such as thyme, rosemary or nutmeg
- Cream, stock or fortified wine, such as marsala
- Whole spices, such as black peppercorns, cinnamon sticks or star anise
- Brown sugar or sugar-based glaze (optional)
- Finishing ingredients and garnishes, such as shaved parmesan, fresh whipped cream or citrus zest
Heat the oven to 350 degrees Fahrenheit.
Peel the quinces if you want to dice them or roast them in halves, and scrub the skins under cool running water if you want to roast them in the skin. It's usually easier to peel a quince with a paring knife than a vegetable peeler.
Cut the quinces in half and cut out the cores. Dice the quince into 3/4- to 1-inch cubes, if desired.
Toss the quince with lemon juice or rub the cut surface of a lemon over the exposed flesh if you cut them in half.
Coat the quince with olive oil or butter and season them to taste. For both preparations -- savory or sweet -- lightly season the quince with kosher salt.
Add spices and herbs to taste. If you're going with a savory flavor profile, use floral herbs and spices, such as thyme and rosemary. If you're leaning toward sweet, go with woodsy, sweet spices, such as cinnamon, allspice and nutmeg.
Place the quince in a shallow baking dish. If you want to cook the quinces in a little cream -- perfect if you roast them in halves -- place them flesh-side down in the dish.
Pour about 1/4 to 1/3 inch of cream, fortified wine or stock in the baking dish. Use stock if you're making a savory dish, and cream or fortified wine, such as marsala or port, for a sweet dish.
Add whole spices to the stock or cream, if desired. A few black peppercorns goes well if you're serving the quince with meat or chicken. Use floral aromatics, such as whole cloves, star anise or 1/3 of a cinnamon stick, if you're making sweet quince.
Roast the quince for 20 minutes and stir them or turn them over if you cut them in half. If you want to add brown sugar, do so now. Roast the quince for another 20 minutes.
Take the quince out of the oven or brush on a honey, molasses, maple syrup or citrus glaze on them.
Return the quinces to the oven if you glazed them. Cook until the glaze caramelizes, about 5 to 10 minutes.
Finish the quince with a touch of balsamic vinegar, freshly chopped herbs or finely shaved Parmesan, to name a few options, if you took a savory route. Savory quince complement meat dishes or vegetables.
Finish the quince with citrus zest, fresh whipped cream or toasted and chopped nuts, if desired, if you went with a sweet interpretation.
Tips & Warnings
- Poach the quince in water or cream for about 20 to 30 minutes before you roast it to give the flesh a creamy, buttery quality.
- You can roast quince alongside meat, such as pork and duck, to give it a savory quality, or roast it with vegetables, such as potatoes, sweet potatoes and yams.
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