Wednesday, September 28, 2011

Quinces & Aprons!

Last Saturday in my search for the Holy Grail, ahem, the jar of mustard fruits needed for the rabbit recipe I went to a lovely food and wine store here in town - The Kingdom Store. This is a fab shop stocking lots of foodie goodies and great wines. Anyways no sign of the Mustard fruits but from the corner of my eye I spotted what I thought were Capri lemons and made a beeline for them, turned out they were Quinces. Hmmmm... interesting I thought and sur I had to bring a couple home with me.

Quinces have a tough golden skin when ripe with a firm acid flesh that is highly aromatic, generally used for jams and jellies or to flavour pies.

I found a great recipe online - Gordon Ramsay's Pan roasted duck with caramelised quince and pear.

Serves 4

100g caster sugar
100ml cider vinegar
4 star anise
3 cinnamon sticks
1 quince, cored and cut into 2cm-thick wedges
4 duck breasts, about 175g each
Sea salt and freshly ground black pepper
Handful of thyme sprigs
1 pear, cored
50g butter, cut into cubes
Splash of balsamic vinegar

Put the sugar in a small pan and pour in the vinegar and 200ml water. Dissolve the sugar over a low heat; once the liquid is clear, add 2 star anise and 1 cinnamon stick. Bring to the boil and simmer for 5 minutes. Carefully add the quince to the pan, return to the boil and poach uncovered for 10 minutes. Remove the quince and drain on kitchen paper.

Pat the duck breasts dry with kitchen paper. Score the skin in a crisscross pattern and season generously with salt and pepper. Place the duck breasts skin-side down in a dry, ovenproof pan with the remaining spices and thyme. Cook over a low heat to render down most of the fat. This will take 10-15 minutes. Heat the oven to 200C/Gas 6.

Increase the heat under the duck and fry until the skin is crisp. Turn them over and seal the other side for 1 minute. Transfer the pan to the oven and cook for 8 minutes for medium-rare – the meat should feel slightly springy when pressed. Rest the duck on a warm plate for 10 minutes.

While the duck rests, cut the pears into 2cm-thick wedges. Pat the quince and pear dry with kitchen paper. Melt the butter in a heavy-based frying pan, then add the fruit. Cook for 5 minutes over a moderate heat, turning halfway and seasoning as it cooks. Once tender and lightly caramelised, add a splash of balsamic vinegar and any juices from the duck. Cook until syrupy.

Carve the duck into thick slices and serve with the caramelised quince and pears, and the pan juices poured over.

We had it with some stirfried cabbage and fondant potatoes.

I will not and cannot cook without wearing an apron and I love them, I have loads - dotty ones, stripey ones, flowery ones, fruity ones, plain ones and last Saturday I got this beaut in Carrig Donn and better again reduced from €15 to €9!

Looking forward to the Dingle Food & Wine Festival at the weekend, we'll be heading over on Sunday.


  1. You know i have yet to see a fresh quince at the Market here in Galway. I can get the quince paste and we eat it with cheese.......yum!
    I bet that yours turned out great, that is a nice recipe you chose.
    Also, I am a huge apron fan. There is a shop in the US where I still buy online ...called Anthropology .... Loveliest aprons ever.

  2. I never thought of Carraig Donn for aprons - I got a nice stripey one recently in M&S, but that was after spending a while looking.

  3. Mona, OMG - Anthropology is fab! You temptress!!!

    Dudara, ya Carrig Donn is great for ickly kitchen bits, try TK Maxx too, some good aprons there from time to time, though I must admit I hate rummaging for things there!