Along with huge variety of apples and pears in the farmer's market in September (or early fall), quinces wait quietly for the few people that know how to cook them. There's a secret to unlocking the extraordinary flavor of this hard-as-rock, astonishingly fragrant fruit that to me smells like pear, banana, pineapple, guava and flowers all rolled into one.
Use this basic quince-cooking method for both savory dishes and desserts. As is, they are a great accompaniment for roast pork, duck, chicken and just about any game bird. They make a lovely dessert with heavy cream or ice cream, and can be used as tart fillings and embellishments for plain cakes. Cook them longer and they turn into a quince preserve, for toast or pancakes.
Quinces are readily available in supermarket from August to February.
- 1 cup dry white wine
- 1/2 cup plus 1 tablespoon wildflower honey
- Juice of 1/2 lemon
- 2 pounds fragrant quinces
- 1 tablespoon butter, optional
- Pinch salt
1. In a medium nonstick skillet, combine the wine, honey, and lemon juice.
2. With a vegetable peeler, peel one quince. With a small sharp paring knife, cut it into eighths and cut out the fibrous core. Cut each eighth in half again, to make a 1/4" slice. Place the slices in the wine mixture and toss to coat to prevent the slices from browning as you work on the others. Pare and slice the remaining quinces. Add the butter.
3. Bring the wine to a boil, reduce the heat, and simmer until the quinces are tender and rosy but retain their shape, 25 to 40 minutes. If the wine is evaporating too quickly, add some water in 1/4-cup increments.
4. Increase the heat to a low boil and boil the wine until about 1/2 cup of thick syrup remains. Cool the quinces in the syrup; serve warm or cold.