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My husband has a big smile on his face as he hands me the bag.
I look inside. “What are these,” I ask.
“Quince,” says he.
“What the heck am I to do with these” I ponder. What the heck is a quince anyway? I mean I know it’s a fruit, I know it’s a fall fruit. But I’ve never actually seen or cooked with one before.
If you like bold flavors, this stew is for you.
My husband does like to challenge me.
After doing research online and my cookbook collection, and cutting into and tasting that quince, I decide to make a stew with it, using another one of the I hardly ever use ingredients that hubby bought for me at a farm, veal.
I’m not a huge fan of veal. I find the meat to generally be too soft, milky soft. I like my cow grown. But here I have a one- pound bag of veal stew meat. It’s been in the freezer for a while and it’s high time I used it up, so why not put the two things I’m most not familiar with together into one tasty stew?
I find a recipe for Quince Stew on Epicurious.com. While the recipe itself sounds pretty boring, I do like a few components of it, so I take it and run with the idea adding some deeper, richer flavors.
I think Garam Masala is an essential pantry spice.
The recipe for Quince Stew I found was a Persian dish. Persian food has a tendency to be mild, not using a lot of chiles, peppers, or spices. In other words, it’s pretty boring. (Sorry Persian food people). So I decide to take it to Morocco. Moroccan food likes spice. Bold flavors. One thing both cuisines do have in common, they both like to have fruits mixed into their meat dishes, and they use citrus, either raw or preserved.
Since I’m taking it to Morocco, I decide to use my tagine. You can make this dish in a pot with a tight fitting lid as well, I just like the way the tagine cooks. The cone-shaped top captures the moist steam and distributes it back down into the food, keeping everything moist.
In this recipe for Veal and Quince Stew, I use the spice blend Garam Masala. I think Garam Masala is an essential pantry spice. If you don’t have any, then you could mock-up a recipe using ground cumin, then half as much coriander and cardamon, a good shake of cinnamon and a dash dash each of cloves, nutmeg, and cayenne. It might not be perfect, but it will work. If you don’t have all these spices either, then use which ones you do have.
If you use none of the spices, then you will have taken this back to a more Persian version of the dish. Less spicy, but it would still be tasty.
I also used some Ras El Hanout, another African spice mixture that has a lot of common ingredients with Garam Masala. The spice mix I used I got was from Trader Joe’s which included rose petals as an ingredient. It was a coarse blend of spices, not fully ground like most are, so if you are using a fully ground Ras El Hanout, use half as much as I say in the recipe. If you don’t have any, then use a bit more of the Garam Marsala.
I prepped the quince by washing them, then I cut them in half and removed all of the core. The core turns hard when cooked (from what I read, I have not tested this) if not removed, then I cut them into chunks. I decided to use sweet potatoes as I love their flavor with these spices and thought they would play nice with the quince. They did. The prunes added a beautiful sweetness to the spicy heat from the Garam Masala.
This stew was really delicious. Very rich and flavorful. If you don’t like or have veal, use beef, pork, lamb or even chicken thighs. The chicken thighs will cook faster, so if using them add all your ingredients at one time, no need to let the meat cook for a half an hour in the broth. Otherwise, just substitute the meat with your protein of choice, and follow the recipe. If you like bold flavors, this stew is for you.
Also, if you don’t have any quince hanging around the house, try firm Bosc pears or Fiji apples in their place.
Toss the meat with salt and pepper. Heat the oil in a Dutch oven or tagine (if your tagine is stove-top approved) over medium high heat; add the meat and cook, stirring the meat around until lightly browned; add the onion and garlic. Continue to cook, stirring, until the onion is soft, about 3 - 5 minutes. Sprinkle the spices over, and stir in well. Add the tomatoes and stock; bring to a simmer. Lower the heat to just a simmer, cover and cook for 1/2 hour.
While the meat is cooking, prepare the other ingredients. After 1/2 hour, remove the top and add the quince, sweet potato, and prunes. Cover and cook for 1/2 hour more, or until fork tender, stirring occasionally. Stir in the lemon or lime juice. Taste and adjust for seasonings. Serve in warmed bowls. We served some Naan bread on the side.
LindySez: We served this with a Spanish Rioja. Terroir to terroir, after all, Spain is just a short boat ride to Morocco. It would work with any light style young fun red wine, nothing too old and stodgy. It would also go nicely with an off-dry Riesling.
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