Monday, November 24, 2014

Cranberry Quince Sauce

Normally we don't have it together enough to make holiday dishes in advance merely for the purpose of blogging about them. Perhaps if people left comments here, requesting such things (or even if people left comments at all...ahem.), we'd try. Ordinarily, the cranberry sauce doesn't get made until the day before Thanksgiving, but this year, the three of you lucked out.

There are quince at the farmers' markets. We can hear you now, "I thought quinces were birds?" "What the hell is a quince?" Quince is a relative to pears and apples and looks like a cross between the two. Unlike pears and apples, they can't be eaten out of hand--they are far too hard, astringent, and acidic. But they smell wonderful. The two quince we picked up at the UMB farmers' market perfumed the car and made the evening commute far more pleasant than usual.

The last time we did anything with quince, the result was quince butter flavored with star anise and vanilla. Delicious stuff, especially as a side for roast pork. But there was a bag of cranberries in the freezer begging to be combined with quince. After discarding the idea of a chutney, we went with our usual cranberry sauce-making technique: throw stuff in a pot until it tastes good.

The quince and cranberry combo is wonderfully aromatic on its own, but even more so when a healthy dose of rosemary is added. Be sure to crush the rosemary needles in your hand before adding them to the pot, to ensure all the yummy essential oils can be dispersed through the sauce.

Cranberry Quince Sauce

2 quince
1 1/2 cups brown sugar
1/2 cup fresh orange juice
1/2 cup amaretto or bourbon (optional)
1/2 cup water
1 teaspoon ground cinnamon
1 teaspoon ground ginger
1 teaspoon dried rosemary
1 lb cranberries
Pinch salt
2 tablespoons maple syrup

Peel and dice the quince. Add them to a 2-quart saucepan with the brown sugar, orange juice, amaretto, and water. Bring mixture to a boil, then turn down heat and simmer, uncovered, for twenty minutes, until quince are softened. Add the spices, cranberries, and salt. Cook until cranberries pop and mixture thickens, about 10 minutes. Stir in the maple syrup and remove from heat.

Makes about a quart.

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