Manchego & quince is a typically Spanish combination. The contrast of the sharp, cured sheep’s cheese with the jelly like sweet fruit paste called Dulce de Membrillo is a classic tapas dish. Served with triangles of the quince paste on top of triangles of Manchego or even on cocktail sticks a la cheese & pineapple.
To be honest I find the Dulce far to dulce (sweet) and the grainy texture offputting. So when we saw some quince growing I decided to buy one and see if there is another way to prepare it. Speaking to the senora in the market, I asked how you know when they are ripe. She said that you cannot eat them raw and they have to be cooked for along time and then she started talking about, muslin & hanging for days at which point I switched off, I don’t have the patience for that, but I bought one anyway.
Searching the internet for easier ways of preparing quince I came across a gorgeous blog called The Traveler’s Lunchbox which had a fantastically simple recipe for braised quince, which I just had to try..
Serves 2 – 4 with cheese
- 1 large quince
- about 250 ml water
- 50 gr sugar
- the zest of 1/2 lemon
First heat the oven to 160degrees. Wash and dry the quince then halve them or cut into wedges. Place in a baking tray and pour the water on top and sprinkle over the sugar and lemon zest. Cover the tray tightly with aluminium foil and roast in the oven for around three hours.
You will know it’s ready when the quince is completely soft and the cooking syrup is a deep ruby-pink – leave them in the oven a bit longer if necessary. Take the tray out of the oven, remove the cooked fruit and strain the syrup into a jar. I didn’t have a lot of syrup as I only roasted one quince but if you do more you can use the syrup as a quince cordial to serve with chilled cava or champagne as an unusual cocktail or in make a jug of the cordial mixed with sparkling water & ice.
To eat the quince, simply remove the papery peel and cut the soft fruit from the core. Serve slivers of the quince on slices of cured Manchego or other strong, sharp cheese. The combination is lovely and the braised fruit is so much easier and tastes fresher and less sweet than the paste/jelly.
For a delicious lunch I drizzled some olive oil over a halfed baguette, added slices of Manchego and the braised quince slivers and put it under a hot grill for a few minutes to melt the cheese. I love finding new ingredients especially when they’re beautiful like this. If you see some in the market buy them and become a fan….