Wednesday, 23 November 2011

What on Earth do you do with a Quince (apart from make jelly)?!

Never turn down free fruit in the pub.
This has been an increasingly pressing question on my mind recently; a week ago I had a snifter with Dad after work in the local (he took great offence when I suggested it might be better to turn up at the office for said snifter a little later than the ten to five he usually pops up at) and he presented me with a bag of quinces. Which I found quite amusing. What was even more amusing was that I asked my friend Sophie who was also present if she'd like a quince. She rolled her eyes and said 'Don't even get me started on bloody QUINCES!!!' Apparently my Dad wasn't the only parent trying to offload the produce of this years glut. So anyway, I didn't fancy jelly and couldn't be bothered to make membranillo to go with my favourite cheese Manchego (but maybe I will have to be bothered as I just found THREE MORE QUINCES in my fruit bowl aaarrgghh!). I was a bit stuck, and then I had a brilliant moment, when I stared at the duck legs in the fridge, flicked open Clarissa-Two-Fat-Ladies' game book and there it was: duck with quince. It was meant to be. That was a long winded intro, apologies. Clarissa's recipe involves stuffing a whole Mallard with wedges of quince, so I adapted it a bit, a little apprehensive, as I had never, ever, cooked with quince, but where would be the fun in doing the same old thing every day? I was on holiday with the rentals in a heavenly cottage in Cornwall and was feeling brave.

A rather English affair.
Feeds four. Pre-heat the oven to 180c, or if using an Aga for the first time ever like I was, erm, do nothing. Peel two quinces, or is it two quince? Who cares. They are quite tough to peel, or maybe it was the holiday cottage peeler. Or maybe holiday wine. Get a baking tray big enough to hold 4 duck legs, cut the quince into quarters and cut the core out. Toss in a little olive oil with seasoning and lay the duck legs over the quince int he baking tray. Season the duck and rub with the tiniest smidgeon of olive oil. Roast for approx 1 hour, maybe a bit less, the quince is very clever and turns pink when cooked. It should be tender like a cooked potato and the duck wants to be crispy-skinned and nice and tender. Baste it every now and again to help keep it moist. Nothing worse than a tough duck. Except raw quince. Serve with whatever you like, I did roasted potato, onion and courgette slices. It was gert lush, even if I do say so myself.

I was genuinely worried about this supper but was happily pleased with the results. The duck was tender and stringy, and the quince was not too sweet, not too soggy, and had a very subtle bitterness that made me think of black olives. And there wasn't a runcible spoon in sight!

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