Pumpkins are plump, orchard fruit is ripe. Lia Leendertz knows just what to do with quince and medlar.
‘I first came across the idea of using quince as the fruity element in a tagine in Mark Diacono’s River Cottage Handbook: Veg Patch, and it seemed just right. Quinces originate in the Middle East and sit happily in a tagine. I’ve used chicken, flavoured with saffron, ginger and cinnamon.’ Lia Leendertz
8 chicken thighs
3 tbsp olive oil
3 red onions, sliced lengthways
5 cloves garlic, crushed
1/2 small winter squash (I used uchiki kuri)
2 red peppers
5 dried apricots, chopped
Small bunch coriander
Small bunch parsley
2 tsp ground ginger
1/2 tsp saffron, in warm water
1 cinnamon stick
4 tbsp black olives
2 tbsp honey
1 preserved lemon
Juice of 1 lemon
1. Brown the chicken thighs all over then set aside. Take a large, heavy dish with a well-fitting lid and add the oil, red onions and garlic. Place over a low heat. Chop and add the other vegetables and the apricots.
2. Finely chop the herbs and sprinkle over, reserving half of the coriander. Add spices, olives and honey. Remove and discard the pith from the preserved lemon, finely chop the rind and add to the pot.
3. Arrange the browned chicken on the top of the vegetables, add 175ml water and set over the heat. Bring up to a simmer, cover with the lid and turn down to the lowest possible heat. Simmer for 45 mins.
4. In the meantime peel and quarter the quinces; drop into a pan of boiling water, with the lemon juice, and simmer gently for 30 mins. Drain and, when slightly cool, remove the cores and slice each quarter in two. Add to the tagine for final 10 mins of cooking. Sprinkle over the reserved chopped coriander before serving.
Turn to page 44 of November's The Simple Things for the full menu, which includes Khobz (Moroccan bread), a quince & medlar cheeseboard, buttery baked medlars, spiced pickled quince, and quince brandy. Buy or download your copy now.