November 21, 2010

Quinces: from slow poached to “dulce de membrillo”

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Don’t you find these colours lovely? It’s autumn on a plate!I find these poached quinces so beautiful but most of all comforting! They are delicious on their own, but with a dense greek yoghurt, they are in perfect balance!The creamy yoghurt slightly sweetened with the glossy (I cannot describe the texture of these poached quinces…dense but soft?!) ruby coloured, slightly sour quinces!

I must admit that I was attracted to this way of cooking quinces from the moment I saw them in Haalo’s amazing blog. From her I learned that the slower the poaching the more intense the colour, and after a few tries, it is definately true! I use a tiny bit more sugar and I also prefer to use other spices like cinnamon or a tad of clove to infuse the poaching liquid, rather than vanilla.But like with everything you can adapt this technique to your taste. I would definately recommend trying it, it is excellent…if you are not too concerned about any consumption issues (gar or electric) as it takes about 3 hours to get that lovely colour! I wasn’t too concerned…but Linguini raised my awareness!!So definately next time I make them, I’ll make quite a large batch to keep for a while!!

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Same story for the “dulce de membrillo” if you want such intense colour. There’s many ways to make this, but my preferred one so far is to cook them (skin and all) in water for looong to get a dark amber colour, then blend that puree with a bit less than it’s weight of sugar (I’m not a fan of overly sweet things) and cooking that off slowly until it reaches the texture I like. That texture is not the same for me as it is for Linguini. I like dark, rick membrillo (like the fairly expensive Santa Teresa brand) thinly sliced, as many cheeses  best partner(almost all, except blue). There’s a saying in Spain that goes “uvas y queso saben a beso” (grapes and cheese taste like a kiss) as they are a perfect match. Well, I’d definately agree with La Mambalina and say “membrillo y queso también (meaning also) saben a beso”.

Linguini, on the other hand is used to the usual cheaper commercial ones which texture resembles more a compote rather than a pâte de fruit, as he says for everyday use he prefers this milder softer one thickly sliced. So, after over 4 hours of cooking and it cooling down he said…can you not make it more like the usual ones?!So, I’ve made two more batches to play around with texture and colour…and keep him happy!Next time, I’ll make him happy trying to save up money using a pressure cooker for this, to see how it works!

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You can see my dark first batch this season on the far end…rich, thick, more caramelised, and the more orangy colour on the front has a more gelatinised compote texture. No surprise, as quince is very rich in pectin (one of the few pâte de fruits that does not require added pectin) that’s why I’ve kept the cooking liquid…more like a gelatin (on the turkish tea glass) to use to impart colour and texture to other jams as Christine Ferber’s apple pectin! At least nothing is wasted!!!;)

Slow poached quince and “dulce de membrillo”

For the slow poached quince:

800g of quince

200g of sugar (1/4 of the weight of quince)

water to cover

a drizzle of lemon juice

spices to taste (I used a stick of cinnamon and 1 clove, but you may prefer 1/2 a vanilla bean, seeds scraped out)

For the dulce de membrillo:

~1 kg quince

~800g of sugar (The usual ration is 1:1 but I prefer to use less sugar)

drizzle of lemon juice

 

To slow poach the quinces, simply peel the quinces, and cut in fourths or smaller and core. Be sure you remove the seed and the white part around them which holds really hard little pellets (with the same colour of the flesh, so you must feel them).

If you are quick doing this, there’s no need to place them on a water and lemon juice bath as you go and place them directly with the sugar and water to cover.

Bring to the boil and bring down the heat to simmer very slowly, slightly covered. Like Haalo says, the lower the boil and longer, the darker the colour. You might think 2 hours is enough for you, but I left it for about 3!And this is how they looked…

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And on a plate:

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Now, the “dulce de membrillo”… Wash the membrillos to remove the soft velvet around it. If you notice the one on the left, fresher has it still over it, whereas the other one, which is not as fresh is almost waxy in appearance (this is how you’ll most often find the quince).

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Then, quarter without peeling or coring and place in boiling water. As soon as it recovers the boil, lower to a soft simmer…

Now, to get a really intense colour, I cook it for at least 2 hours very slowly, but really only half an hour is needed to get them soft and then blend them with the sugar. So, if you are not so concerned about this rich ruby colour, you can just cook until fork tender. But if you want to get a dark colour, cook for longer. After 2 long hours, this is what they’ll look like (the photo is terrible, it was night time and couldn’t get any better!).

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Ah, be sure to strain and keep the cooking liquid, that’s the reason for cooking them with seeds and skin (as they have more pectin) Well, and also because I find it easier to just quarter than peel and core the hard quinces…With that gelatin, you can thicken naturally other jams (which are already dark) or give colour and add pectin to lighter looking ones. Or…if you add sugar (same weight of the juice or a bit less), just use it as a quince gelée! If not thick enough, you can reduce to get the texture you want.

Now, with the quinces, let cool enough to handle and remove the skin, which peels off easily and core, making sure you remove the hard little pellets underneath the dark seeds, otherwise they’ll end up in the pureed quince and are really nasty to find!

Blend with the sugar (1:1 or a little less sugar if you want a slight touch of sourness still in the end) and a drizzle of lemon juice.

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and pour back into the casserole to cook it down.

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You should at least cook it until when you stir with the spatula you can see the bottom of the casserole. For the light coloured one I think I left it for a bit more than half an hour, for the other one, about one hour, and the dark one 2 hours over low heat!

It is very recommended to use a splatter shield to avoid burns! I used a new non-stick super-thick amazing casserole I bought, and it was amazing. But if not, it is recommended to use a high pan and the shield, as the puree when it bubbles can splatter and it is almost like caramel! So, be warned, just in case.

When it is to your liking of consistency (you can try by cooling a teaspoon in the freezer to see if it sets well). Pour onto the mould you like (I used a 15x15cm square mould, but a plumcake tin works well) completely covered with cling film to unmould easily and cover with some extra cling film to press down and even out the surface.

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After it has set, you can easily remove it from the cling film and wrap into as many pieces you like.

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Here’s it sliced thinly…which tastes like heaven with cheese!

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And the 3 different “dulces de membrillo”. Notice the different colours, each with a different texture.

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Here are two closer looks on the texture:

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I hope you find in these two recipes at least one way to enjoy seasonal quince!

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2 comments:

Anonymous said...

que buena sorpresa los gajos de membrillos pochados, me encantó la leve acidez! mucho más que la pasta del membrillo que nunca me ha gustado mucho. Me pasa lo mismo con la guayabas que aquí en Brasil me sustituyen a los membrillos, me gusta muchos mas los cascos de la guayaba que preparo que la pasta o crema de guayaba, tan dulce y a veces tan empalagosa... Reivindicación del membrillo!

Colette said...

:) Si, es cierto.A mi los dulces demasiado dulces (valga la redundancia) no me gustan tanto, me saturan enseguida. Pero en el caso del dulce de membrillo, como lo corto muy finito, acompañado con queso esta muy rico. Últimamente con el Arzua Ulloa me encanta y no me canso de la combinación, pero no como postre, sino como tapa o en sandwich. El otro me gusta más como postre! y la textura es fantástica. Ay, la guayaba, que aquí es dificilísima de encontrar (por no decir casi imposible) como fruta. Los cascos una delicia, pero el intenso sabor de la goiabada con requeijao o para dar sabor y dulzor a otras elaboraciones reposteras es riquísimo. Antes de ayer nos arreglaron el horno (POR FIN!!!) a ver si me animo a usar la que me trajiste para el bolo de rolo! Un beso

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