So what about quince? One of the earliest known fruits, quince trees have been grown in Asia and the Mediterranean for over 4,000 years. It looks like a cross between an apple and a pear. Because of its high tannin content, a quince cannot be eaten fresh. The Owl and the Pussycat would have puckered up from the astringency! Quince becomes delicious though when cooked into a reddish paste, known in Spain as dulce de membrillo, slices of which are eaten with manchego cheese.
I found quince paste while on holiday in Australia, and so, a decade after first reading the poem, Son #2 can finally savor the delicacy that the Owl and the Pussycat ate with their runcible spoon!
Chicken Marylands with Quince Paste
(adapted from the product's website)
3 boneless Chicken Thighs
3 Chicken Drumsticks
1 Potato, peeled and cut into chunks
1 Sweet Potato, peeled and cut into chunks
1 Red Onion, chopped
Olive Oil for frying
100 grams Quince Paste, cubed
1 tbsp fresh Thyme, chopped
1 tsp fresh Rosemary, chopped
1/2 stick Cinnamon
2 Bay Leaves
1/2 cup Chicken Stock
1/2 cup White Wine
2 tbsp Balsamic Vinegar
Zest of a whole Lemon
Salt and Pepper
Preheat the oven to 180 deg C. Add olive oil to oven-proof pan on high heat. Season chicken pieces with salt and pepper, brown on all sides. Remove and set aside. Saute onion until translucent, deglaze with white wine. Return chicken pieces to pan and pour chicken stock over. Add the vinegar, quince paste, herbs, cinnamon and lemon zest. Bake in oven for 45 minutes, basting occasionally. Check for seasoning. When done, leave to rest for 10-15 minutes, removing bay leaves before serving.