Cooking this recipe on a wet and windy January evening allows you to escape Britain’s mundane drizzle for earthen terracotta tiles, a warming sun above and warm floors beneath your bare feet…even if only in your imagination!
Lifted straight out of Yottam Ottolenghi and Sami Tamimi’s great book, “Jerusalem“, this recipe’s ingredients offer enough exoticism to awaken your tastebuds without taking away from those warming, comforting flavours that are perfect for a chilly night.
This recipe is altered to cater to two, but the book itself gives for four, so double up with no ill-effects.
Lamb-stuffed quince with pomegranate and coriander
200g minced free-range lamb
1 small garlic clove, crushed
1/2 red chilli, chopped
small bunch of coriander, chopped, plus 2tbsp to garnish
1/2 tsp allspice
1 tbsp finely grated ginger
1 medium onion, chopped
1 medium free-range egg
a squeezed lemon half, plus 1tbsp juice
1.5 tbsp olive oil
4 cardamom pods
small glug pomegranate molasses
1 tsp sugar
250 ml chicken stock
seeds of 1/4 a pomegranate
salt and black pepper
Mix the mince with the garlic, chilli, coriander, breadcrumbs, allspice, half the ginger, half the onion, egg, 1/2 tsp salt and some pepper. mix well and set aside.
Peel and halve the quinces, keeping them in a bowl full of cold water with a squeezed 1/2 lemon, so they don’t turn brown (if you don’t have a used lemon half, add 1tbsp juice). Remove the seeds, then, leaving a 1.5cm shell, score your quince and scrape out the middle, using a hardy teaspoon. Keep the flesh you scoop out.
Fill the hollows with the lamb mix, pushing in well.
Heat your olive oil in a large, frying pan which you have a lid for. Whizz the quince flesh you kept when hollowing in a food processor, then add to your pan with the remaining onion, ginger and cardamom seeds.
Sauté for around 10 minutes until the onion has softened, then add the molasses, 1 tbsp of lemon juice, sugar, stock, 1/4 tsp salt and some black pepper. Add the quince halves to the sauce, meat facing upwards, reduce the heat to a slow simmer, and cover the pan. Simmer for around 30 minutes. At the end the quince should be beautifully soft, then meat well-cooked and the sauce thick. Lift for the lid and simmer off any remaining liquid, if necessary, for a minute or two.
Serve sprinkled with the coriander you kept back and the pomegranate seeds.
Yum! The fattiness of minced lamb is very reminiscent of Middle Eastern flavours, but the fresh fruitiness added by quince and pomegranate cut through that fat with sharp sweetness in the most lovely way. The chunky sauce you can see straddling the quince halves above ended up beautifully rich, and the coriander provided a necessary green, herbiness. And no, if you were wondering – my picture does not do this exquisite meal justice! Thanks Yottam and Sami!!