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Moroccan Lamb and Quince

What is a quince? A quince is a yellow fruit that is indigenous to south west Asia, Turkey and Iran. It is woody, hard and inedible raw, but when cooked it becomes a soft, fragrant fruit that tastes like a cross between a pear and an apple. It’s hard to substitute out in a recipe, but a mix of baking apples and pears would be closest.

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I had seen several recipes that required quinces, but I had never seen the fruit before. I was aware that quinces were coming into season (they are generally an autumn fruit) and I took a quick peek in the produce section of my local grocery store. Low and behold, they had them. I must never have noticed them before because they look so much like apples.

My favorite kind of cooking is ethnic cooking. I love Thai, Persian, Afghani, Indian and Moroccan food.  Their generous use of herbs and spices creates flavor combinations that seem to explode in your mouth. I don’t get to cook this kind of food too often because it’s not exactly kid friendly. However, when I see quinces at my local store….I can’t resist.

Traditionally, this dish would be made in a tagine. And you still can. You would need to change the recipe ever so slightly so message me if you want to make it that way and I will tell you how. For those who haven’t heard of tagines, they are terracotta or ceramic coned topped cooking vessels that can be used on your stovetop. However, cooking with a tagine can be a little tricky so I made this dish in my cast iron dutch oven.

This is a tagine.

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Here’s how to make it. First add the butter and oil to the dutch oven on medium-high heat. Add in your meat, onion, garlic and remaining step one ingredients EXCEPT for the saffron and cilantro bunch. Brown.

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Add 3 cups of water, the saffron and cilantro. Cover and simmer on low heat for 90 minutes.

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After 90 minutes, uncover and remove about 4 tbsp. of the broth. Set aside for use in step two.

Reduce until most of the water has evaporated. You will notice the stew steaming less. You want just the oils remaining. This step took me about 45 minutes.

While the stew is reducing, cut and core your quinces. They are very difficult to cut, make sure you use a good, strong, sharp knife. Place the cut slices in water to prevent them from browning while you finish up.

Drain the quinces and put them in a large skillet. Cover with water and add 1 tsp sugar. Bring the mixture to a boil. Simmer for about 20 minutes or until the quinces are fork tender. Reserve 4 tbsp. of the liquid and drain the remaining liquid from the skillet.

Add back in the reserved liquid, reserved stew broth, and remaining step two ingredients. Simmer until a thick syrup forms, carefully turning the quinces to coat them.

Once the stew has reduced, remove the cilantro and cinnamon stick.

Place stew on a serving platter or tagine and arrange the quinces on top. Serve with steamed rice or a naan type bread. Enjoy!

Moroccan Lamb and Quince
Ingredients
  • 2 lbs lamb cut into 2-3 inch pieces
  • 2 onions chopped fine
  • 3 cloves garlic minced
  • 1 stick cinnamon
  • 1 1/2 tsp ground ginger
  • 1/4 tsp allspice
  • 1 tsp salt
  • 1 tsp tumeric
  • 1/2 tsp black pepper
  • 1 tsp lemon zest
  • 1/2 tsp saffron
  • 1/4 tsp cayenne pepper
  • 4 tbsp olive oil
  • 4 tbsp butter
  • 1 small bunch cilantro tied together with string
Step two:
  • 1 1/2 lbs quinces cut into 8ths and cored
  • 1 tsp sugar
  • 3 tbsp butter
  • 2 tbsp honey
  • 2 tbsp sugar
  • 1 tsp cinnamon
  • 1/4 tsp salt
Instructions
  1. In a large dutch oven, melt the butter and oil together. Add the onions, garlic and meat. Stir to combine.

  2. Add all the remaining step one ingredients EXCEPT the cilantro and saffron. Brown the mixture on medium-high heat.

  3. Add 3 cups of water, the saffron and cilantro bunch. Cover with lid and simmer for 90 minutes on low heat.

  4. After 90 minutes, uncover and remove 4 tbsp. of the broth and set aside for use in step two. 

  5. Leave uncovered and reduce on medium heat until most of the water is gone and only the oil remains. This takes about 45 minutes.

Step Two:
  1. While the stew reduces, prepare your quinces. With a sharp, strong knife, cut quinces into 8ths and core. They are very woody and hard to cut so take your time. Put cut pieces into a bowl of water so they don't brown while you finish up.

  2. In a large skillet, add the quinces (not the water). Add enough water to cover the quinces, add 1 tsp sugar and bring to a boil.

  3. Simmer for 20-25 minutes or until quinces are fork tender.

  4. Remove 4 tbsp. of the liquid from the skillet and set aside. Drain the remaining water off the skillet. 

  5. Add the reserved liquid from above back into the pan, along with the reserved liquid from the stew.

  6. Add the remaining step two ingredients to the skillet.

  7. Simmer until a thick syrup forms, carefully turning the quinces to cover all sides.

Serve:
  1. Remove the cilantro bunch and cinnamon stick from the dutch oven. Place meat on a serving platter or tagine and arrange quinces on top.

  2. Best served with steamed rice or naan type bread.

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