Quinces are the most underrated fruits of the Autumn season. Nobody talks about them, or cooks with them, and we can’t even find them easily. I buy mine online from a health store, but back home in Romania, the markets are full of them.
Just towards the end of October, when most of the fruits are harvested, the quinces shine in all their glory: golden, perfumed, and firm. They are available from October to January, their firmness being ideal for storing over the winter and providing the necessary vitamin C.
Quinces’ flavour is somewhere between an apple and a pear, but you can’t just bite into them. Poaching is the secret way to extract flavour, so we use them a lot in desserts. They also make a flavoursome jam, and also quite a tasty main course.
This quince and chicken tray bake uses a savoury caramel sauce that is specific to Romanian fruity main courses.
Here is how to make it
1kg quinces, sliced and kept in cold water
6 boneless chicken thighs
2 tbsp sugar
100ml chicken stock
100ml white wine
1 tbsp vegetable oil
Start by preparing the chicken: heat a bit of oil in a frying pan and brown the chicken thighs on all sides. Put them in a ceramic tray, including all the juices left in a pan, cover with kitchen foil and roast in the oven for 10 minutes at 180C.
In the meantime, melt the butter in a pan. Add the slices of quinces and fry on each side for 3-4 minutes or until golden brown. Add the sugar and allow to caramelise.
Take the chicken out of the oven and add the caramelised quinces. Pour over the chicken stock and wine. Cook in the oven for another 20 minutes.