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I've been seeing a lot of fall pictures from my friends on Facebook. The changing leaves. Kids Halloween costumes. Pumpkin spice everything. I sniffle a little and feel a bit sad that I don't think I'll see much of fall this year. The olive trees don't change colors, no trick or treating to prepare for, and pumpkin spice is only a memory.
When I talked to my mom yesterday I heard my niece say “grandma, I need my jacket.” Pfff jackets? My kids aren't even in long sleeve t-shirts yet! I do keep reminding myself that when the snow starts falling back home, and I'm still in flip flops I'll be the one smiling.
Fall is the perfect season for warm soups, stews, and casseroles. Warm and comforting with minimal clean-up required. Most days, the last thing I want is something hot to eat but a good tajine is the perfect fit for any day. It's quince season here and I'll admit the first time I saw these for sale at the market I thought they were really deformed apples. Quince, like figs, are not something that often appear in the Midwest.
See just some ugly apples right? No, this is a quince. Don't eat them raw – ask me how I know. Basically these make me think of a sweet potato and apple if they got married and had a baby. But they really have to be cooked to get the flavor to come out. If you've never tackled cleaning one, here's how. I first cut around the edges, the same way I do with a mango. There is a core and seeds in the center.
If you have a really sharp knife you can probably cut right down the middle, but my good knives haven't arrived yet so I'm working with sub par knives right now. Next peel the skin off using a paring knife or a vegetable peeler. The skin comes off just like the peel of an apple. I like to keep the quince pieces a little bit bigger but you can cut them into whatever size you want. I make this in a tajine pot, but you could also make it in a large, dutch oven or pressure cooker (just cook the meat and quince separate).
- 2 lbs beef (bone-in pieces if possible)
- 1 large onion diced
- 3 cloves of garlic grated
- 2 Tbsp vegetable oil
- 1 Tbsp butter
- 1/2 tsp cinnamon
- 1/2 tsp salt
- 1/4 tsp red pepper (you can add more for a spicier dish)
- 1 1/2 tsp cumin
- pinch of saffron threads crumbled
- 2 quinces, cut, peeled, and cored
- 2 Tbsp honey
- 1 cup of water
- 1/2 cinnamon stick (optional)
This recipe is to be made in a tajine.
- In the bottom of a tajine add 2 Tbsp vegetable oil and 1 Tbsp butter. Heat on low heat.
- Add diced onion and grated garlic.
- In a large bowl mix cinnamon, salt, red pepper, cumin, and crushed saffron threads. Mix with 1 cup of water.
- Coat pieces of beef in the spice mixture.
- Place beef in the bottom of the tajine. Reserve the marinade.
- Cut, core and peel quince then add to the top of the beef.
- Pour the remaining marinade mixture over the quince and beef. Add the optional cinnamon stick to the liquid
- Cover the tajine and cook for 45 minutes - 1 hour, occasionally checking the water to make sure there's enough liquid in the dish.
- When the meat is cooked through and starting to fall apart. Drizzle the top of the quinces with honey. You may need to add more depending on how sweet your quinces are.
- There should be liquid remaining in the tajine.
- Eat using crusty bread to break apart the pieces and soak up the juices.