A couple of weeks ago, while at my local fruit and vegetable market, I spotted some quince (kydonia in Greek) and having recently seen recipes featuring quince on a number of yummy blogs I follow, (namely Kopiaste, Food Junkie not junk food, Mediterranean Cooking in Alaska and Kalofagas), I decided to give this versatile fruit a go.
Quince, related to apples and pears, are somewhat pear-shaped and yellow in color. According to sources, the quince likely preceded the apple and is more likely to have been the oft referred to “golden apple” in Greek mythology. In fact, sources say, in Ancient Greece the quince was considered “the fruit of love, marriage and fertility.”
Pork with Quince — Hoirino Kydonato
Adapted from a recipe in Aglaia Kremezi’s The Foods of the Greek Islands
3 lb. center-cut, bone-in pork loin
1/4 cup olive oil
2 quince, peeled and sliced
Juice of half a lemon
1 large onion, thinly sliced
1/2 cup sweet Marsala wine
12 pitted prunes
1 cinnamon stick
1 bay leaf
1/4 teaspoon ground allspice
1 cup chicken stock
2 tablespoons balsamic vinegar
Salt and freshly ground pepper
Season the pork loin with plenty of salt and pepper and set aside.
Fill a bowl with water and add the lemon juice. Peel and slice the quince thick, dropping pieces you’ve already sliced int he bowl of lemon water as you work.
In a large dutch oven, heat the olive oil over medium-high heat. Pat the quince dry and saute in the oil until nicely browned. Transfer to a plate and set aside.
Evenly brown the pork in the same dutch oven. Once browned on all sides, remove to a plate. Add the onions to the pot and cook, stirring to scrape up all the juicy brown bits, until softened. Stir in the wine and boil for a few seconds. Add the cinnamon stick, bay leaf and allspice and give it all a good stir.
Return the pork back to the dutch oven; add 1/3 of the quince, all the prunes, the chicken stock, salt and pepper to taste and give the dutch oven a good shake to combine it all. Bring the liquid to a boil, reduce the heat to low, cover and simmer for about 50 minutes, basting the roast occasionally with some of the sauce. (Add some more chicken stock if you feel there is not enough liquid during cooking.)
Uncover the pot and place the remaining quince pieces around the pork loin. Cover and simmer until the newly added quince pieces are soft, about 20 minutes or so. Remove the lesser cooked quince to a plate and keep warm. Remove the pork loin and let rest. Season the sauce in the pot with the balsamic vinegar and additional salt and pepper if necessary and keep warm.
Slice the pork loin and serve, topped with the sauce, alongside a couple of quince pieces and–if you like–some rice.