This is my favorite winter stew. Quinces are equally delicious in savory and sweet dishes, and Greek islanders cook all kinds of meats with quince.
On Chios, they pair quinces with free-range chicken; on Crete, with lamb; and on Lesbos, with veal. As with most stews I make on Kea, our local veal shank is my first choice; but I also make pork with quince. I give the meat extra flavor by tying the cores of the fruit in cheesecloth and adding them to the cooking broth.
The combination of meat with quinces is not new. In the Roman cookery of Apicius we find similar stews, and quinces have been quite common in old traditional Greek cooking. Here, the firm, fragrant fruit, with its appealing tart flavor, is balanced with the sweet wine and the plums, or pearl onions.
This stew can be prepared almost entirely in advance and refrigerated. Then you need only simmer the meat in the sauce for a few minutes and caramelize the quinces just before serving. Accompany with potatoes, especially with David Tanis’ Olive oil and Garlic Mashed Potatoes, or with polenta.
Leftover sauce makes an unusual but excellent pasta sauce, or it can be a great topping for fava, instead of the caramelized onions.
Adapted from Mediterranean Vegetarian Feasts
Makes 4 servings (more…)