The quince (“gutui” in Romanian) has been a popular ingredient since medieval times. It is native to Southwest Asia, Turkey and Greece, but used since centuries in the Romanian cuisine. In recipe books you can find it for the first time in 1841. You cannot eat it raw, but cooking brings out its sweet flavor and beautiful winter aroma. A simple and classical dish in the countryside is “Mancare de gutui”, a vegetarian meal made of quinces, sunflower oil, flour, salt and sugar.
Today, I prepare a more sophisticated dish that is inspired by the French confit. Confit comes means "preserved" and comprises any type of food that is cooked slowly over a long period of time. Try this wonderful combination of duck breast and quince confit, a kind of quince jam that is cooked several times during a period of 3 days. Certainly no dish for fast food lovers, but you will enjoy it.
The quince confit can be preserved for several years. It matches perfectly with roasted pork jambon and many other meat dishes.
Quince Confit (ca. 3 jars):
· 1,5 kg of Romanian quinces (smaller than the Turkish ones, but they are much more flavored)
· 1 kg sugar
· 2 tablespoons of cinnamon
· 1 teaspoon of star anise
· ¼ teaspoon of nutmeg
· Lemon juice
Duck (for 4 persons):
· 2-4 duck breasts (preferably organic, free-range)
· 50 ml cognac or “vin ars” (Romanian version)
· Salt, pepper
· Olive oil
· 2 tablespoons of butter
· Baking paper or cling wrap
1) Wash the quinces with a sponge (clean the skin accurately)
2) Cut the quinces in small slices or cubes, keep the core
3) Put the sliced immediately in cold water with lemon juice (to avoid turning brown)
4) Cover the cores with water and boil them 30 min (until they get tender), put them in a sieve, throw the core and keep the water (quince water).
5) Put the slices in a pot and add 400 ml of quince water, sugar and the spices. Let them marinate for 3-4 h.
6) Heat the pot and let the quinces boil for 20 min, stir them from time to time.
7) Let the quinces rest for 24 h (room temperature).
8) Boil the quinces again for about 30 min on a low heat until the quinces become red (syrup consistency).
9) Sterilize the jars in the oven and fill in the quince confit (when still hot), close the jars well and turn them up side down, cover with a towel, let them cool down to room temperature (min. 24 h)
(1) Heat the oven (ca.180 degrees).
(2) Place the chicken breast side down and cut it with a knife lengthwise.
(3) Cover the breast with plastic wrap and pound it with a meat tenderizer as thin as possible.
(4) Salt and pepper on both sides. Put a few tablespoons of quince confit on one side.
(5) Roll up each chicken breast (edges to the middle like cabbage) and secure it with a toothpick.
(6) Heat a pan with 2 tablespoons of butter and a tablespoon of olive oil (to prevent butter burning). Fry the rolled breasts 2 or 3 minutes just to give them a crispy crust.
(7) Put cognac, light the pan and flambé the breasts.
(8) Put the breasts for 10-15 minutes (depending on the thickness) in the oven. The breast should remain pink inside.
(9) Leave the breasts a few minutes outside and slice them diagonally. Serve i.e. with caramelized fruit salad or rice.
Enjoy your meal, pofta buna!
By Juranda Kirschner, Guest writer
Photo credits: Terra Carpatica/ Tara-n Bucate